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Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward to run upcoming F1 practice sessions for McLaren

McLaren Racing will feature IndyCar stars Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward in a pair of upcoming Formula One training sessions.

McLaren said Friday that Palou, the 2021 IndyCar champion, will run his first practice next Friday at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas. The Spaniard will drive Daniel Ricciardo’s car for 60 minutes.

“I’m so glad I did F1 coming out over the weekend,” Palou said. It was great to be driving in the United States in front of fans who might have watched me race at IndyCar. “

O’Ward will drive Lando Norris’ car during the first practice session at the season-ending finale in Abu Dhabi. The Mexican driver took the young driver’s test at that track for McLaren last December.

“I can’t wait to get on the right track in Abu Dhabi. I’ve grown as a driver and had a lot of fun testing the car last year with the team, so it’s going to be a great experience,” said O’Ward.

Palou and O’Ward have both tested the F1 car for McLaren twice since the IndyCar season ended last month, in Barcelona and Austria.

“Alex and Pato have impressed with their recent tests,” said McLaren Team Principal Andreas Seidl. “This is a great opportunity for them to showcase their skills on the global stage of Formula 1, where the focus will be on helping the team prepare for the race weekend and not the final time of the race. . “

When it was announced that two IndyCar drivers were required to use reserve drivers for at least two seasons this season, McLaren clearly did not get the right to attend the Oscar Piastri sooner than hoped.

Piastri has a contract with Alpine until the end of the year and will replace Ricciardo at McLaren next season. McLaren had hoped Piastri would be released sooner and maybe even take part in some training sessions before the end of the season.

The Arrow McLaren SP IndyCar team will expand in 2023 to three cars, with Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi joining O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist. McLaren tried to add Palou, who signed with the team but ended up being kept on his existing Chip Ganassi Racing contract.

Ganassi kept the 2023 option to Palou, exercised it, and was then unable to come to a buyout agreement with McLaren when Palou said he was leaving Ganassi. He will now complete his Ganassi contract, be allowed to test drive the F1 car for McLaren and will officially join McLaren in 2024.

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