Austrian Grand Prix – Red Bull’s most recent signing to their junior programme, Patricio O’Ward, will make his Formula 2 debut this weekend at the Red Bull Ring.
The 20 year old Mexican driver, currently racing in IndyCar with Carlin after winning the Indy Lights series last season, was signed to the Red Bull junior programme in early May.
A man without much in the way of European racing series, O’Ward is being given a baptism of fire this weekend as he will step into the cockpit of an MP Racing car in place of the banned driver Mahaveer Raghunathan.
O’Ward explained that he got the call to fly over and take part in the Austrian weekend from Dr. Helmut Marko, the man responsible for overseeing the junior programme: “The invitation really did come out of the blue, Sunday afternoon at Road America, Dr. Marko called and said, ‘Well Pato, get your clothes together and get on a plane tomorrow, you’re driving in F2 next weekend.’ What a phone call that was, just great.”
Acknowledging that he has a serious mountain to climb in terms of adjusting to a car and a formula he’s never driven before, he said: “I get fitted for the car this afternoon and then it will be question of learning as much as I can as quickly as I can. I am really coming into this stone cold, but hey, that’s OK, it’s not the first time I have done that. I can’t wait.”
“So here I am and I have absolutely no expectations of what the weekend can bring, it’s a one-off drive and I know that there is a huge amount to learn. I hear that the tyres and the way you have to manage them is a quite a thing, there is the DRS to get used to, it is a huge opportunity to learn so much.”
For now, the appearance is scheduled to be a one-off, with Raghunathan due to return for the next round at Silverstone in two weeks time.