McLaren have announced that Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward will drive for the team in FP1 sessions at 2022 US and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix.
Palou will replace Daniel Ricciardo for FP1 at US Grand Prix on Friday 21 October, whilst O’Ward will replace Lando Norris for the opening Practice session of Abu Dhabi GP on Friday 18 November.
Palou’s F1 bow comes after he joined McLaren’s roster in controversial fashion amidst a disrupte with Chip Ganassi, which has now been resolved with the Spaniard remaining with the latter team for 2023 IndyCar season, whilst conducting F1 test work for McLaren.
Speaking about his opportunity to drive for McLaren at US GP in FP1 next week (21 October), Palou who won 2021 IndyCar title said that he is “excited” to make his first appearance at a F1 weekend in a F1 car, having previously featured on F1 weekends when he raced in GP3 in 2015 & 16 seasons.
On what it means to make his FP1 debut in America, Palou added: “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 meanwhile will make his competitve race weekend debut in FP1 at Abu Dhabi, having finished in the top-seven in each of last three IndyCar seasons since he joined Arrow McLaren in 2020.
Speaking about his opportunity to participate in a FP1 session on a F1 race weekend, the Mexican commented: “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.”
McLaren Team Principal, Andreas Seidl added that he is “pleased” to see Palou and O’Ward participate in FP1 sessions, as he vowed that this opportunity for Palou is set to “be useful” in terms of driver evaluation and gaining “feedback” on the car.
Confirmation of Palou and O’Ward’s FP1 outings now means that it is incredibly unlikely that Reserve Driver, Oscar Piastri will make a FP1 appearance for either McLaren or his current team – Alpine, ahead of 2023 pre-season following controversy over his move to McLaren for next season.