Palou sees no competition with O’Ward in McLaren F1 test programme

Alex Palou does not see any competition with fellow IndyCar driver Pato O’Ward in McLaren’s testing programme, saying he is “not chasing” a move across to Formula 1.

Alex Palou, McLaren MCL36

2021 IndyCar champion Palou made his F1 race weekend debut on Friday, taking part in practice for the United States Grand Prix with McLaren.

It came as part of a deal for Palou to conduct F1 running with McLaren through its testing of previous cars programme alongside his race duties for Chip Ganassi Racing in IndyCar – after a failed attempt to jump ship to McLaren’s IndyCar team.

O’Ward is part of the same F1 test programme and will take part in practice for the season finale in Abu Dhabi. But Palou said he did not see it as a competition to try and be the next IndyCar driver to make the switch to F1.

“No, I don't think we're competing,” said Palou. “As racing drivers, you’re always competing. But if we start from there, I don't think that they are putting us in a race [seat]. So I think I don't take it that way.

“I think the way we've been testing and the way we've been working together, it’s not been feeling like that. So yeah, I don't think so.”

McLaren has Lando Norris locked in with a long-term contract and has also signed 2021 F2 champion Oscar Piastri for its second seat next season on a multi-year deal, sewing up its line-up for the foreseeable future.

Alex Palou, McLaren MCL36

Alex Palou, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

O’Ward has previously been clear about his ambition to one day make the switch to F1, but admitted last winter that the window for it to realistically happen was only a couple of years.

Palou said he was content to have his focus on IndyCar for the future, noting that it was his success in the series that helped pave the way for his F1 opportunity with McLaren in Austin.

“Obviously I think as a racing driver that likes motorsport, F1 is where you want to go,” said Palou. “Throughout my career, I realised that F1 was not a place I could really achieve.

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“I went through IndyCar and we achieved that, and funnily enough, getting that IndyCar championship gave me the opportunity to be here today. I embrace every single second of it.

“I'm not chasing it. Obviously, if somebody gives me a ride, I'll drive it. That's the ultimate dream. But it's not that I'm focused.

“I have a career in IndyCar, we've been successful and I want to get as many championships as possible. But yeah, if there's a car, I'll drive it.”

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