Palou, O'Ward to drive for McLaren in US and Abu Dhabi F1 FP1 sessions

IndyCar aces Pato O’Ward and Alex Palou will drive for McLaren in upcoming Formula 1 free practice sessions as the team pencils in its mandatory FP1 rookie sessions.

Palou, O'Ward to drive for McLaren in US and Abu Dhabi F1 FP1 sessions

Palou will take part in FP1 at the United States Grand Prix, taking over Daniel Ricciardo’s car for the 60 minute session at Circuit of the Americas, while O’Ward will drive Lando Norris’s car in opening practice at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

These outings follow the pair’s driver development tests in the MCL35M and fulfil the team’s two young driver outings, as mandated in the sporting regulations.

Andreas Seidl, team principal, said: “We’re pleased to give Alex and Pato the opportunity to take part in Free Practice 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 1’s global stage, where the focus will be to help the team prepare for the race weekend and not on ultimate lap times.”

Patricio O'Ward, McLaren MCL35M

Patricio O'Ward, McLaren MCL35M

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

O’Ward, McLaren’s incumbent star in the Arrow McLaren SP team, 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.”

Palou, the 2021 IndyCar champion who will continue to drive for Chip Ganassi Racing next year despite his efforts to transfer to Arrow McLaren SP, 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.

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“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.”

Both drivers have four IndyCar wins to their credit, O’Ward’s latest two coming at Barber Motorsports Park and Iowa this year. Palou’s title defence appeared set to be winless in 2022, until he turned in arguably the most dominant performance of the IndyCar season in the finale at Laguna Seca.

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