Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Alex Palou, Pato O’Ward to Participate in Formula One Practice Sessions for McLaren

Pato O'Ward and Alex Palou at the 2022 Honda Indy Toronto.
Pato O’Ward and Alex Palou at the 2022 Honda Indy Toronto. Photo courtesy of Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment.

The McLaren Formula One team have announced that 2021 NTT IndyCar Series champion Alex Palou and Arrow McLaren SP racer Pato O’Ward will each drive for McLaren in one practice session each during the rest of the 2022 Formula One season.

Palou will use Daniel Ricciardo’s MCL36 in the first practice session at the United States Grand Prix. That practice will take place at Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas on Friday, October 21st. The race will be two days later.

“I’m so excited to be making my F1 weekend debut,” Palou said in a team release. “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.”

O’Ward will drive Lando Norris’s MCL36 at the first practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. That practice will take place at the Yas Marina Circuit on Friday, November 18th with that race taking place two days later. O’Ward has tested for McLaren at Abu Dhabi at a prior young driver test.

“I can’t wait to get out on track in Abu Dhabi,” O’Ward said in a team release. “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.”

Starting in 2022, Formula One teams were required to have rookie drivers behind the wheel of their cars for at least two practice sessions. The FIA defines a rookie as a driver that has not competed in more than two Formula One races in their career.

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