F1 | Alex Palou and Pato O'Ward get FP1 outings with McLaren at COTA and Abu Dhabi
The Spanish and Mexican drivers have been given a great opportunity by McLaren after impressing in IndyCar in recent years.
IndyCar stars Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward have been given opportunities to take part in FP1 sessions as part of the mandated rookie programme in 2022.
The Spanish and Mexican drivers have both driven McLaren’s 2021 package on multiple occasions as they prepared themselves for this moment.
Palou – who drives for Chip Ganassi Racing in the North American series – gets his chance at COTA next Friday. The 25-year-old won the IndyCar championship in 2021.
The Spaniard had been involved in a tug of war between his current team and Arrow McLaren SP. He ultimately stayed at Chip Ganassi Racing as they had a valid contract with him next year.
However, he has been granted permission by them to test and drive McLaren’s F1 cars.
Alex Palou said:
“I’m so excited to be making my F1 weekend debut. It’s great to be driving in the United States in front of fans that may have seen me race in INDYCAR. Having driven the 2021 McLaren MCL35M in a few tests now, I can’t wait to put the MCL36 through its paces. I look forward to helping the team in their preparation for the 2022 United States Grand Prix.”
Mega excited to share with you all that I will be driving for @McLarenF1 next week at COTA during Free Practice 1 🚀 @F1 #USGP pic.twitter.com/ZUFsT7MkEK— Alex Palou Montalbo (@AlexPalou) October 14, 2022
For Pato O’Ward, his FP1 outing will be at the season-finale in Abu Dhabi – the circuit where he drove an F1 car for the first time last year. The Mexican currently drives for Arrow McLaren SP in IndyCar.
The 23-year-old has been consistently excellent in the North American series, becoming a regular winner and championship contender in the past three seasons.
Pato O’Ward said:
“I can’t wait to get out on track in Abu Dhabi. I’ve developed as a driver and had a lot of fun testing last year’s car with the team, so it will be a great experience to drive the MCL36. Thank you McLaren F1 for the opportunity.”
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Andreas Seidl, Team Principal, said:
“We’re pleased to give Alex and Pato the opportunity to take part in free ptactice sessions with McLaren. With Alex’s great successes in INDYCAR, it will be useful for the team to get his feedback on the car and for us to continue to evaluate him as a driver.
“Alex and Pato impressed with their recent tests in Barcelona and Austria and we’re excited to offer them the experience in the MCL36. It’s a great chance for them to showcase their skills on Formula One’s global stage, where the focus will be to help the team prepare for the race weekend and not on ultimate lap times.”