This weekend at the Velocity Invitational held at Laguna Seca, McLaren brought their A-game. While the event is mostly a vintage racing soiree, many current manufacturers brought out some of their heavy hitters as well for track laps and showing off. It was a cool time, and we’ll have a more in-depth recap of the event in the near future, but for now we’re going to talk about Pato O’Ward’s lap in Mika Häkkinen’s championship winning 1998 MP4-13A.
As captured with video onboard by Racer Magazine’s YouTube channel, the McLaren IndyCar phenom O’Ward was hardly holding anything back. The young Mexican driver drove the vintage F1 car to a 1:10.3 lap after just a few short sessions aboard. While this is still some seconds off of Marc Gene’s outright lap record at the track, set in a Ferrari F2003 back in 2012, it’s still mighty impressive. And it’s just shy of a second quicker than O’Ward’s own best time at Laguna Seca earlier this year in IndyCar. Here are the details, thanks to Racer’s Marshall Pruett.
I was fortunate enough to have been on site for the lapping sessions, and it was an absolute blast of nostalgia. That 3-liter V10 was screaming around the track, and I could not have been happier than I was in that moment. O’Ward seemed to have had a good time in the car, but what was even more stunning was just how rapid that machine was.
Even though the car is more than two decades old, the carbon tub is positively ancient, and the tires are a mix of whatever Avons would fit, the engine seemed to run like it was brand new. I don’t know what level of work was done on the car to prepare it for Laguna Seca, but I don’t think it was ever really capable of setting a new lap record.
Someone asked me a few days ago what the difference between IndyCar and F1 was. My reply then was “about 500 million dollars a year” but this is a better and less sarcastic answer. A current IndyCar in competition is only slightly slower than a 23 year old F1 car in testing. How about that?
And now that you’ve gotten through all of that, here’s Pato being an absolute dork in the best possible way.