IndyCar's O'Ward joins McLaren's stable of reserve drivers

IndyCar's Pato O'Ward will join McLaren's stable of reserve drivers next season, the Formula One team said on Thursday.

O'Ward, who drives for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team, is in Abu Dhabi and will participate in Friday's first practice ahead of Sunday's season-ending grand prix.

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The 24-year-old driver has four wins and 20 podiums in IndyCar and has previously tested with McLaren, including last year in Abu Dhabi.

"Pumped to take on this new role within the McLaren Racing family," O'Ward said in a statement.

"I've always said it's never a bad day when you get to jump into an F1 car, so I look forward to joining the reserve driver pool for next year alongside my driving duties with Arrow McLaren."

O'Ward has been on the F1 radar as a promising talent for some time having also had a stint with the Red Bull junior team.

He joins a reserve squad that includes Japan's 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Ryo Hirakawa and Mick Schumacher, the son of seven times F1 champion Michael Schumacher.

"Pato had an impressive season in the IndyCar series and has performed well in his driver development tests, so it felt natural to take this next step now he's eligible for an FIA Super License," McLaren F1 team principal Andrea Stella said.

"With the expansive calendar, it's prudent to ensure we have a wide pool of drivers that we can call upon if required."

There are unlikely to be any open seats at McLaren in the near future with the team having two of the sports' top young drivers in Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.