O’Ward pleased with Indy GP podium: “I’m very happy with what we extracted from our tools today”

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Patricio O’Ward finished third in last weekend’s Gallagher Grand Prix, his sixth of the season, and a result that brings him back into the top 5 of the championship. But it wasn’t an easy feat, the young Mexican explained.

“That was physical. That was a physical race. Every lap was a push lap for me today. Reminded me a lot of Mid-Ohio this year.

“But very pleased with today. I thought the team did a phenomenal job on my strategy, in the pits. I was very happy with my car balance. We obviously got some catching up to do in an area.

“Yeah, I’m very happy with what we extracted from our tools today.”

O’Ward started from fourth position, but lost two spots to teammate Alexander Rossi and Christian Lundgaard in the opening stint. A good executed pit stop strategy and an overtake on Rossi brought him back into contention for the podium.

“No, absolutely. Midway through, they were telling me we were third. Scott and Graham, they were really quick. I mean, I struggled keeping Christian behind.

“But, yeah, managed it very well.”

The tyres were point of discussion as well after the race, as only second place Graham Rahal seemed to manage to extract some pace from the hard Firestones, in contrast to the frustrating pace the Arrow McLaren driver could muster.

“I think you [Rahal] were an outlier on blacks,” O’Ward told Rahal.

“You were just really fast on blacks. I was on reds, and I was maintaining. At that point you should be catching. You shouldn’t be maintaining. When I was on blacks and they were on reds, I was falling like a rock. I was miserable on them.”

He added that he only had one fresh set of soft tyres, so-called ‘sticker reds’, although the used ones worked very well.

“I mean, I was on the same boat as he was. I had two heat-cycled reds I had to use and a fresh set of reds. I was very pleased to see that even with those two heat cycles, they held up really, really nice. So I was very happy with that.”

The season so far has been a rollercoaster ride for O’Ward, who yet has to score a win, as does his team. So when asked what would turn his season around he gave the obvious answer:

“A fricking win would be great (smiling).

“Yeah, I mean, I’ve been driving my ass off every single race. Like, there is nothing more than I want than to get wins. Obviously there’s been little things here and there that have got us out of contention and out of being able to kind of capitalize on that.

“With like the performance of today, I’m very pleased. I’m just tired. I’m just very pleased with today, very happy with how the team and I attacked because I was playing around with Graham in the warm-up, and he was just stronger than me. I know he was. I knew it was going to be a tall ask, just from outright pace, to try and beat them.”

O’Ward’s efforts won’t be the issue in pursuing victory, and if Arrow McLaren can deliver the goods like this weekend, the wins will eventually come.

“But I was very happy with my car balance. I was very happy with every other call. Yeah, we just got to keep pushing.”