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Brown praises Palou but no more McLaren F1 tests until IndyCar ends

IndyCar’s Alex Palou won’t get anymore Formula 1 tests with McLaren before the end of the season but will return to the team's reserve driver role, according to Zak Brown.

Alex Palou, McLaren MCL36

Alex Palou, McLaren MCL36

Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

McLaren Racing chief Brown says Palou’s IndyCar results this year have been “very impressive”, alongside which the 26-year-old Spaniard has conducted multiple tests in its TPC (testing previous car) F1 programme.

Palou is currently 110 points clear of his IndyCar opposition after a stunning first half to the season for Chip Ganassi Racing that has included four race victories.

His most recent F1 test was at the Hungaroring last month, where he shared the running with McLaren’s race driver Oscar Piastri.

Speaking at Silverstone, Brown confirmed that Hungary was Palou’s final test for the foreseeable future, allowing him to focus on sealing a second IndyCar title, but added that he will be back in the F1 paddock from Singapore onwards.

“Alex has been very impressive in IndyCar,” he said. “The competition there is fierce. So, for him to win as many races as he has in the fashion in which he's done, it is very impressive.

“He's our reserve driver and will be joining us at the end of the year for the remaining Formula 1 races, so he's definitely a strong, strong talent.”

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Gavin Baker / Motorsport Images

When Palou was asked by Autosport if he feels that his F1 runs have elevated his driving level, he replied: “It's always tough to say but I would say yes, for what I feel.

“I think it's always great when you can, as a driver, be driving whatever has four wheels and an engine, especially if it's a really fast car and you have so many people working and overseeing what you're doing with the car, talking like engineers.

“Obviously it changes a lot, the way I drive in F1 or in IndyCar. Still, the process and the method and the work ethic, you always learn some tools that you can carry into IndyCar.

“It's been working so far. I love it. I don't expect having anymore testing before our season ends, but it's always good to have some track time.”

Palou got his first taste of a contemporary McLaren F1 car when he took part in FP1 at the Circuit of the Americas last year, which followed the resolution of an acrimonious court case when he tried to join McLaren for 2023 from Ganassi in the middle of the year.

Palou is expected to switch to the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team next season, while he waits for an opportunity to graduate to its F1 line-up.

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