IndyCar race winner and Formula 1 hopeful Pato O’Ward has spent the last couple of years as a walking example of an absurdity in the FIA superlicence system but his patience may finally be about to pay off.
McLaren is applying to get O’Ward a superlicence that will likely lead to him becoming a formal reserve driver, in addition to the Friday practice outing he will get in Abu Dhabi this year and the post-season test at the same venue the Tuesday after.
O’Ward has been eligible for the licences required to test F1 cars and drive in Friday free practice for a while. But he has not qualified for a superlicence because of the under-representation IndyCar has in the FIA points system.
A driver needs 40 points from the superlicence qualifying system to be eligible, and just like Formula 2 the champion in IndyCar gets those 40 points immediately. But the points drop-off is more severe and other leading championship positions are worth less than not just F2 but also Formula 3 and even the World Endurance Championship, which is a different discipline entirely.
Superlicence points for leading positions
IndyCar isn’t the only championship to be hard done by. Japan’s leading series Super Formula, another non-FIA category and a closer equivalent to F1 than F2, is chronically underrated as well. Even Formula E (an FIA world championship no less) probably deserves more points, too.
But let’s focus on O’Ward for now. Because his time looks like it has come.
It was daft that he didn’t already qualify for a superlicence after finishing fourth then third in the IndyCar points in 2020 and 2021. Then finishing seventh last year in a difficult season scuppered his chance of becoming eligible as the FIA’s points system remained the same – problematic for O’Ward in the McLaren hierarchy as it chased IndyCar champion and Chip…
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