AUSTIN, Texas. — The United States Grand Prix is next on the docket for Formula One on October 23rd.
With the World Championship locked up by Max Verstappen of Red Bull, F1 teams are now on cruise control to the end of the season. It’s the perfect time for many teams to try out younger and fresher talent at the top rung of the F1 ladder.
For McLaren, they will be handing some seat time to two of IndyCar’s most talented young drivers in Pato O’Ward and Alex Palou for the next couple races.
“I can’t wait to get out on track in Abu Dhabi,” O’Ward said. “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.”
“I’m so excited to be making my F1 weekend debut,” said Palou. “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, who is full-time with Arrow McLaren SP in IndyCar, is not a stranger to F1. He tested a previous generation F1 car last year at Circuit of the Americas as a reward from McLaren CEO Zak Brown for having won IndyCar’s race at Texas.
O’Ward will be tasked with dialing in McLaren F1’s car during one of the three practice sessions at Abu Dhabi. The same task will fall to Alex Palou as well at COTA.
Palou is coming off a public legal battle between him, McLaren, and his full-time IndyCar team Chip Ganassi Racing. Ganassi sued Palou for breach of contract after he signed a deal to join McLaren after Ganassi had picked up their option to keep Palou on their team through 2023.
Under a new deal as part of a settlement in the dispute, Palou is still a primary driver for Ganassi in IndyCar for one more year. During that time, Palou is free to test in F1 for McLaren as long as it does not interfere with his requirements in IndyCar.