Patricio O’Ward is left with no seat ahead of the NTT IndyCar Series 2019.
The Mexican was announced as Harding-Steinbrenner Racing driver in the fall of 2018, where he and Colton Herta should be teammates, in a two-car team.
Last year’s Indy Lights Champion got his debut at the season finale at Sonoma Raceway, and did very well in both qualifying and the race. So it’s super tough for him, that the collaboration with the team has come to an early end.
It’s been clear during the last few days, that the HSR team didn’t really have the budget for two cars, but just for one. Since Herta has a good relation to George Steinbrenner, it’s no big surprise, that he is the one to keep the seat.
Michael Andretti, owner of the Andretti Autosport team, has revealed that he offered a 8-race contract to O’Ward, but the young driver said ‘no thanks’ to that. The offer would be an absolute maximum 8 races, without any chances of any expansion.
If O’Ward can find another seat, at another team, there are still chances for him to do a full season.
But it’s not easy to find a full season programme, since most teams have the drivers ready for the 2019 season.
There are a few teams out there with an extra chassis. It could be Carlin, who so far only has announced Max Chilton as full season driver, or Dale Coyne Racing, who has a few extra cars at the work shop. Juncos Racing has two cars, where only Kyle Kaiser has signed for a single race in the 2019 season.
Last but not least, we have Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, who has an extra car, which is actually reserved for Robert Wickens. Wickens however won’t be starting in the 2019, since he is still doing rehab, so it’s more of a symbolic gesture, that the team has presented car #6 for him. If O’Ward would get to run for the SPM team, it would be with a different start number.
But even though the chassis are out there, there still needs to be engineers, mechanics and not the least engines, to actually run the car. So the phone lines are very busy all over USA at the moment.
A huge plus point for Pato O’Ward, as he is also known in the paddock, is the 1 million dollar price he got from winning the Indy Lights Championship – a price that usually is enough for 4 races, including the Indy 500.
The NTT IndyCar Series 2019 starts on 10 March on the streets of St. Petersburg – with or without Patricio O’Ward.