Newly crowned six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon said he was left highly impressed by Arrow McLaren SP’s Patricio O’Ward in the Mexican’s first full season in the series.
The 2018 Indy Lights champion, O’Ward came into the season with just eight IndyCar starts to his name, having driven only half a season with Carlin in 2019 combined with select Formula 2 and Super Formula outings.
O’Ward’s runner-up finish in Sunday’s season finale at St Petersburg – separating Dixon from race winner Josef Newgarden – was his fourth podium finish of the year and earned him fourth in the championship.
“I’m pretty impressed with Pato, he did a hell of a job all year,” Chip Ganassi Racing driver Dixon told Autosport.
“Actually, I need to talk to Zak [Brown, McLaren CEO] again because I did say he should go with Pato, so I should maybe get some commission on that!
“Seriously, though, Pato’s been superb and there’s a lot of great talent there at that team.”
One of O’Ward’s most memorable moments was leading from pole in the second race at Road America’s double-header where he led 43 laps, only for slightly excessive tyre degradation to cost him the lead to Dixon’s team-mate Felix Rosenqvist two laps from the chequered flag.
As well as his speed on all types of track, one of the most impressive aspects of O’Ward’s season was how few mistakes he has made.
“Yeah, that was pretty cool to see,” agreed Dixon.
“I think that’s what everyone expected. They said, ‘Oh, he’s fast but he’s gonna crash too much’, or, ‘He’ll make misjudgements that take people out in the races.’
“And that’s just not been the case at all. I thought Pato raced everyone hard but respectfully all year.
“In fact, I’d say he’s one of the best guys on the track in crazy situations like starts and restarts.
“He’s hard but fair, gives you enough room, doesn’t run you off the track.
“The team didn’t always have the speed at every track, but Pato drove like a veteran – a very talented and quick one.”