O’Ward, firmly in contention for the title with four rounds to go, qualified fifth in the Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet for tomorrow’s race, but said the slow sections of the track were “terrible” due to the lack of ventilation in his cockpit.
Asked to confirm what he told NBC’s Peacock during morning practice — that AMSP doesn’t yet have the capability to launch a cold suit system — the 23-year-old Mexican ace said: “Yes, we don’t have them. It’s terrible in the car. It’s unbearable.
“I think it will probably be the worst race. I can’t explain how awful the inside of the car is.
“They say, tomorrow, apparently, the roof scoops will be assigned [mounted on top of the aeroscreen]. But, yes, I have to wipe off the sweat in every braking zone because there is no ventilation in the car.
“Every braking zone, even when I try to clear it, I still feel like I’m splashing sweat on the visor. It’s terrible.”
Commenting on why the team doesn’t use cool suits, O’Ward said: “First of all, I think we don’t have the systems in place. Second, I think as a team, we just didn’t address it. We kind of have, but, yeah, we don’t have them here. Maybe something to watch next year for sure.
“I didn’t think it would be this bad. It’s worse than I remember last year [in Nashville]. It’s very, very bad.”
Team Penske winner McLaughlin agreed that it was “pretty warm. The biggest problem I think is the humidity. When you slow down and go into the pits, the heat builds up very quickly.” But he says he’s still opposed to cool suits.
“Since my Supercars days, I’ve always been a guy who doesn’t wear a cool suit because I think it’s worse when you have one bad luck. It’s just boiling water rolling through your body. I’m actually fine with running the top duct and helmet fan, or helmet air.
“But it will be a hot race. As Pato said, it’s going to be the hottest race we’ve ever had. Hopefully all the training throughout the season will prepare us for this and we’ll be fine.”