Home Sport Arrow McLaren’s Ward “cautiously optimistic” for 2024 after growing year

Arrow McLaren’s Ward “cautiously optimistic” for 2024 after growing year

by News7

Last offseason, Arrow McLaren grew by 40%, with several additions to personnel that included the likes of former Andretti Autosport driver Alexander Rossi in the newly-added third car. While the new hires helped grow the numbers to fill roles, many came in without previous experience in the sport.

Despite that, though, all three entries – fourth with the Indy 500-only effort – delivered a respectable output. Pato O’Ward scored seven podiums, including four runner-ups, to finish fourth in the championship. Rossi, who was also adapting the Chevrolet powerband, had one podium and six top fives to finish ninth in the overall standings. Felix Rosenqvist claimed two podiums, four top fives and two poles to finish 12th by year’s end.

There have been minimal but significant changes since the conclusion of the 2023 season. Rosenqvist joined Meyer Shank Racing, making way for David Malukas, who arrives after two years at Dale Coyne Racing. Additionally, the team has two significant holes to fill with the departures of Billy Vincent, who served as competition director and also handled strategy for Rosenqvist, and Rossi’s race engineer, Craig Hampson.

“You mentioned Billy and Craig’s departure, but really from an overall picture, it’s been a remarkable low turnover offseason for us actually,” Ward told Motorsport.com.

“I can count on one hand the amount of personnel changes we’ve had here, which is great. You know, we’ve got a great group. We’ve got a great depth in the group. So, in terms of replacing those positions, it’s a combination of internal and a bit of a look around for recruitment, but we’re still finalizing exactly what we’re doing. We’ll announce that in due course.”

Photo by: Richard Dole / Motorsport Images

Patricio O’Ward, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, Felix Rosenqvist, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Looking at the positives, though, is the gained experience by the new personnel, who gained necessary experience while learning on the fly and have also been thrust in the middle of the nuances of IndyCar’s consistently delayed hybrid engine.

All of those reasons are a big reason why Ward believes the 2024 season could see Arrow McLaren take another step toward challenging the likes of Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske.

“With the current landscape of motorsport, you can’t pull all those people just from IndyCar,” Ward said.

“We hit the ground January last year with a heck of a lot of new faces and a lot of growth and having to figure things out in a hurry to get ready to go racing. And I think to maintain and make a step in performance, in many ways was a great result. Pretty excited to have a chance to kind of consolidate now.

“The hybrid thing has definitely been an extra demand; wouldn’t call it a distraction but it’s definitely taking quite a lot of focus.

“It’s fair to be cautiously optimistic, but nobody stands still. The teams we’re up against are exceptional organizations. They’ve got a great history and they took a great success. So, I don’t underestimate the challenge of trying to beat Penske and Ganassi out there on track, but at the same time, it’s a huge motivator. That opportunity, we’re knocking at the door. We know we got to bring a bit more performance in a lot of areas. We got lots going on.

“We’re still building the machine, still building the process. A little bit of building the plane while we’re flying it. But yeah, every day is a fun adventure.”

Source : Motorsport.com

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