McLaren are certainly a team with many fingers in many pies. From F1 to IndyCar, Extreme E, and soon-to-be Formula E, they’ve got a lot of drivers on their books. Therefore it’s no surprise they’ll be putting two of their Indy talents in their F1 cars for two FP1 sessions this year.
Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward will be the two lucky drivers who are making their F1 weekend debuts at the United States Grand Prix and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, respectively.
Each team on the grid needs to use a rookie – someone who has NOT competed in more than two F1 races – during first free practice on two occasions this season. It’s a new rule enforced by the FIA to give new faces a chance to get some F1 experience under their belt.
COMUNICADO OFICIAL 📢 @AlexPalou and @PatricioOWard to drive for McLaren F1 in free practice 1 sessions at the #USGP and the #AbuDhabiGP, respectively. 👊
Tap the link for more details. 👇
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) October 14, 2022
With only four races left, and teams like McLaren not running any rookies this season so far, we were expecting an announcement like this soon.
Alex is the 2021 IndyCar champion, with Pato being a fan-favourite and mega talent for McLaren in their IndyCar programme.
It’s also an interesting choice as Alex is the person who was announced as a McLaren IndyCar driver next season, before his current team, Chip Ganassi Racing, declared they also believed they had the rights to his services next year. Yes, it was the OG Oscar Piastri story…
In the end that one was settled with Palou staying at Ganassi in IndyCar for 2023 but being allowed to test McLaren F1 cars. Wonder whose IndyCar team he might be in by 2024…?
And talking of Oscar, it might also come as a surprise that McLaren haven’t managed to convince Alpine to let him get some FP1 action with the papaya team before he makes his FP1 debut next year.
It was understood that Piastri was Alpine’s choice of rookie for the team’s FP1 sessions this year, with him getting an opportunity after the summer break. However, the contract drama meant those were scrapped. Alpine still haven’t shared who their FP1 rookie will be.
To find out which teams have already run their FP1 rookies, or who they picked, CLICK HERE.
Which driver would you like to get an FP1 session?