Patricio O’Ward, along with title rival Colton Herta, is one of the closest drivers in the whole Mazda Road to Indy programme to IndyCar with a 2018 seat firmly in the Indy Lights rookie’s sights. The Mexican is part of the Andretti family and currently leads Indy Lights, despite being one of only two rookies in the full-time field.
Emily Inganni – How is this season of Indy Lights going for you so far? Is it what you expected it to be?
Patricio O’Ward – The season has gone great so far. Honestly it is close to what I expected it to be… I knew I would have a great race car and it was just a matter of me putting everything together on the race track. And I knew I could win!
— Patricio O'Ward (@PatricioOWard) July 17, 2018
EI – As a rookie, what have you had to learn entering Indy Lights and how hard has it been to match the more experienced drivers?
PW – Almost every driver on the grid has at least double or triple the experience I have with that Indy Lights car, so I’ve been playing a little catch up and trying to learn as much as I can, especially in the ovals. But I think I got the hang of it pretty well! It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been something I have enjoyed learning and something I have enjoyed studying.
EI – With a declining number of drivers and teams, do you think Indy Lights has a problem or do you expect the numbers to go back up in years to come?
PW – I hope numbers go back up. The issue is that the championship is way too expensive. That is the issue. If prices go down, then that’s the golden key to have more cars!
EI – As a whole, do you think the Mazda Road to Indy programme is successful at getting young drivers higher up the motorsport ladder? Are there any improvements that you would like to see in the future?
PW – Road to Indy is awesome. It gives drivers, especially the champions of each category, a chance to move up to the next one. The only thing I would change is the amount of $ it costs to do each class… especially Pro Mazda and Indy Lights.
EI – Many Indy Lights drivers have made it to IndyCar before with Kaiser and Leist going up for this current season. Do you see yourself following that path?
PW – I do. I’ll hopefully be in IndyCar next year and I am more than ready for the challenge.
EI – What is the support like in a big team like Andretti? Do you get much support from the IndyCar drivers or not?
PW – I don’t see the IndyCar drivers much, but the help is always there if I need it. I just haven’t really asked around much, but the team have given me an awesome welcoming to the team and any question I have, they answer!
EI – To finish, what advice would you have for young drivers starting out in the Mazda Road to Indy or lower categories?
PW – My advice is drive the heck out of that race car every time you get in it. You never know when is the last time you will be driving it so every lap, give it all you’ve got. People will notice, and you will get a chance sooner or later with the big boys if you have got the skills.
Thanks to Patricio for answering my questions, hopefully we’ll be seeing him in IndyCar very soon! That concludes our Mazda Road to Indy series, another huge thank you to all the drivers for taking part, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the interviews!