INDIANAPOLIS – No one is really talking about it, but Pato O’Ward could be the quiet sleeper to take one of the two new seats for McLaren/Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for 2020. Yes, James Hinchcliffe is back but another seat is still available.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t appear that Marcus Ericsson will be back as we know one seat is available for the taking.
Colton Herta was the top driver that they had their eyes on but a lot of sources in the paddock think that the young American phenom will either return to Harding Steinbrenner Racing for a second season for join Andretti Autosport as a five-car outfit too.
A bidding war could ensue between McLaren and Andretti. That in turn could get awkward as Andretti sees Herta as a part of their future. He doesn’t want to lose him. He also sees McLaren and Zak Brown as close friends and admitted that it would be awkward to see McLaren and Brown teamed with someone else.
So, will Brown step on Andretti’s shoes in the pursuit of Herta, especially knowing that Andretti wants Herta back?
If McLaren/Herta doesn’t work, don’t count out Pato O’Ward. Yes, the same O’Ward.
He wanted an Indy Car seat but his scholarship money from his Indy Lights championship ran dry. Then, Red Bull Racing came in and offered him a drive in their junior program. O’Ward happily obliged. But, what if McLaren makes him an offer too good to refuse? That puts a lot of pressure on Red Bull.
Pierre Gasly isn’t getting the job done and Max Verstappen could leave at seasons end. If Verstappen stays, do they bounce Gasly from his seat and move O’Ward up to keep him happy?
O’Ward may have a bidding war for him too.