Q&A with O'Ward and Carlin
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome to the media center the team principal of Carlin, Trevor Carlin, and to his right, the new driver signed to the team, Patricio O'Ward. The deal was announced on Thursday.
THE MODERATOR: Patricio, you wish you were racing here this weekend. Your first race will be the INDYCAR Classic at COTA in a couple of weeks. You mentioned the Road to Indy. Because all those series race on many of the same tracks, how is that going to help you as far as preparing for this season?
PATRICIO O'WARD: It's huge because let alone when a car is new to you, it's a pretty big task to kind of apply it to a track. Whenever you don't know the track, it's double hard tasks on you. It's really good to know the tracks.
The only ones I don't know are ovals. I know every single road course, either I did it in IMSA or Road to Indy, the Indy Lights car really gave me an idea of just a faster car around Barber, the high downforce tracks. Obviously, an Indy car is going to be a different beast. It gives you an idea of what the track is like.
I think that's definitely huge whenever track time may seem like three sessions is more than we have in Indy Lights, but it goes by quick.
It is definitely a big advantage to actually know the tracks. I think I prepared myself quite well, the Indy Lights car prepared me. I think we showed it last year in Sonoma. Sonoma was a new car for me, a new track for me. I think we came out pretty strong.
I'm excited for the INDYCAR Classic. It's nice because it's close to Mexico, so that's kind of like my home race. I'm bummed I'm not here because I really enjoy racing here even though last year I had a little mishap.
This place is cool. Kind of like a little Monaco. I'm going to enjoy watching this weekend, just go full on speeding.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to open it up for questions.
Q. Trevor, you've come up so much in the junior ranks, having an Indy Lights team, do you think that will help with the development of Pato? A lot of times an Indy Lights driver may end up on an experienced long-term INDYCAR team, they don't have a whole lot of opportunity to show what they can do.
TREVOR CARLIN: Part of the way our team works is we work as a unit, team and drivers. We're trying to help the drivers all the time. We're not one of those teams that say, There's a perfect car, you get in it in and drive it. We work with the driver, nurture him, help with the video, the data. Yeah, our business model is training. We keep on doing it even when it's INDYCAR and Formula 2. No one is perfect in this sport. We just try to help these kids along the way.
Q. What number are you going to use?
PATRICIO O'WARD: The number will be announced in a few days or in a few weeks. We got in contact, when I got released, I started to look at options. I reached out to Trevor, then we got in contact. He had some open races. I didn't have anything. I said, Okay, let's go. Something nice really came up. We have almost a full season, which is really, really nice.
I think a lot of people weren't expecting it after all the circumstances that took place. So I think it's really cool news. It's really important to be with a team that believes in you, that supports you. It's a really competitive series. Whenever you don't have that little extra from everybody, you're going to be at the back. I'm sure they know I'm going to give it my 100% and I'm sure they're going to give me their all.
Q. Pato, one of the things that rookies traditionally struggle with is getting used to the red tires. One of the things notable about you at Sonoma is you didn't have that struggle in terms of qualifying. You were having some struggles making them last during the racing. Is there anything that you can do to speed up your education on that? Will you be paying attention to what's going on with Charlie and Max this weekend?
PATRICIO O'WARD: I'm definitely listening in to what's going on. But it's really hard. Until you try it is when you really start getting adapted to it. The red tire does have a lot more grip than the black tire.
In Sonoma honestly, you basically just have to believe that the car is going to be able to do it. If it doesn't, you see what you can do to save it. It usually works.
While I was in Sonoma, I went up the hill, then in the fast corners, I had no idea how the car was gripping up, but it was working. I said, If it's working this much better here, it's going to work this much better everywhere else. Everywhere I went a lot deeper and faster, and it gripped up. I kind of had an idea of what the tire is like.
When it gives up, it's very different to the black tire. That was a little hard. That's why I had a little problem in Q2. It's hard. Whenever it's a new tire, it's really hard to get used to, especially when you just have one lap to do it. But it's nice to feel the grip.
Q. Is the Cooper tire that you got used to in junior formula, is that a bit more like the black tire?
PATRICIO O'WARD: Yes. The Cooper tire is way more like a black tire. It's more of a harder compound because the tires have to last a lot longer. But, yeah, the red one is not like anything I've tried before.
When I first drove them, I was pretty impressed with the tire. I mean, to me it was unreal what it was capable of doing. Yeah, I think the black tire is more of a characteristic like the Cooper because you have around two or three peak laps. The red tire, you go out, you have to be really nice with it. The first flying lap, at least in Sonoma, that was the first one. The next lap was at least half a second up. There's a very, very big difference.
Car setup kind of changes a little bit, as well. You kind of have to tune to it based on what track you're at. It's a pretty hard balance to find.
Q. You have a couple of races where you're not funded currently. Carlos Slim supports a lot of drivers in other series. Do you have a relationship with him in terms of getting some more money to fill in those gaps?
PATRICIO O'WARD: I have talked to him actually. I've talked to him a few times. As of now, nothing has come up. He's going to keep me posted if something comes up on his side. I'm hustling hard on my side.
But I feel like results are what ultimately give you the power to be able to have more of a leverage whenever you go to sponsors or whenever you want some help. I'm kind of relying on that right now.
Q. Trevor, talk about the relationship with McLaren for the 500, how you think that's going to help Patricio as a rookie, their experience, some of the technology they might be bringing to your program.
TREVOR CARLIN: I mean, the McLaren program, we're helping them as logistical and operational partner on this project. It's interesting. Our team is based very close to McLaren in the UK. We have a good relationship already. They're good guys.
They get into things at a very deep level. They have massive resource, a big company. Obviously, for them, this is a spec car, so a lot of the things they'd love to do they're not allowed to do. We're trying to help them understand what they can and can't do. I'm sure they'll be pushing the boundaries. Ultimately we will benefit from what they learn with Fernando.
It should be a win-win. We're giving them a baseline. Hopefully, they'll take it forward and we'll piggyback along that journey.
Q. How did that relationship come about?
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