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McLaren hand Palou and O'Ward F1 debuts

McLaren hand Palou and O'Ward F1 debuts

F1 News

McLaren hand Palou and O'Ward F1 debuts

McLaren hand Palou and O'Ward F1 debuts

Alex Palou and Pato O'Ward will make their F1 debuts with McLaren in the United States and Abu Dhabi respectively this season.

Spanish driver Palou will take over Daniel Ricciardo's MCL36 for the first practice session at the Circuit of the Americas, with Mexican O'Ward substituting for Lando Norris in FP1 at the Yas Marina circuit.

The opportunity is a step up from their driver development tests this season in which the duo have driven the 2021 MCL35M in Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya in mid-September and Austria's Red Bull Ring earlier this month.

Palou, with four wins and 15 podiums in IndyCar behind him, 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.

"Having driven the 2021 McLaren MCL35M in a few tests now, I can’t wait to put the MCL36 through its paces, and I look forward to helping the team in their preparation for the 2022 United States Grand Prix.”

O'Ward, with two wins and two podiums in IndyCar this season, remarked: “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. Thank you McLaren F1 for the opportunity.”

With McLaren fulfilling the criteria that all F1 teams have to run rookies in two FP1 sessions, team principal Andreas Seidl said: “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."

With regard to Palou, in particular, Seidl added: "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."

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