Pato O'Ward's effort to make Row 2 of the starting grid at the Indianapolis Grand Prix completed a significant turnaround for the IndyCar title contender.
O'Ward looked in danger of failing to advance even from Round 1 of Qualifying at The Brickyard, based on radio transmission from his ill-handling McLaren SP car to the #5 timing stand at the end of his primary tyre run:
Timing stand: “What do we need for reds [alternate run]? Front wing?”
O'Ward: “Disco[nnect] rear [anti-roll bar].”
Timing stand: “We can't make that change in a minute, Pato. Is there anything else we can do with the front wing or anything?”
O'Ward: “No, I think we're f***ed.”
The Mexican managed to climb from 10th at that point to fourth at the end of the stanza, and would go on to claim third on the grid, at 0.3827s behind pole-sitting team-mate Felix Rosenqvist.
“It's a great team result,” said O'Ward, who won the previous race of the season at Iowa.
“Extremely happy with, first of all, making it to the Fast Six because when we started qualifying, we were in trouble, just as we were in FP1.
“I don't know how we did that, but we turned it around, and we got the car into a window where I could work with it.
“I don't think anybody had anything for Felix's lap. Great job to him.
“Super happy to see that for him. He deserves it. He's been working really hard, and it's a great result for the team.”
According to O'Ward, the contrast between tyre compounds meant his situation seemed more perilous than it must have been.
“Sometimes it's hard to judge,” he explained.
“The problem is for us at least in the past it's always been your balance on blacks has to be pretty tough to drive in order for it to be decent on reds.
“It was extremely difficult to drive, like even worse than FP1 in the morning, so I was like, ‘Oh, we're in trouble,' but they were like, ‘Man, we can't change anything.'
“I was like, you know what, I'm just going to try and pull something out of my hat to see if we can transfer, and when they told us we transferred, I was like, ‘whew'.
“Then we were able to make a longer change, which then put me in a way happier window for the second shot of qualifying and then that transferred us into the Fast Six.”
Next up is a Warm Up session late tonight (AEST), then the Race tomorrow at 02:30 AEST.
Stan Sport's live and ad-free coverage resumes on Sunday morning at 02:00 AEST.