IndyCar Champion Alex Palou Becomes McLaren F1 Reserve Driver

IndyCar Champion Alex Palou Becomes McLaren F1 Reserve Driver
Alex Palou driving in FP1 at the United States GP in Austin, Texas. October 22, 2022. Photo Courtesy: McLaren Racing Media.

Alex Palou will act as a reserve driver for McLaren Racing Formula 1 team from the upcoming season, alongside his driving commitments in IndyCar, the Woking-based outfit announced Thursday.

From 2023, Spaniard Alex Palou will combine his role as a full-time driver for Chip Ganassi Racing in IndyCar with his driving duties as one of McLaren’s reserve drivers at the pinnacle of motorsport.

I’m excited to be part of the McLaren team as one of their reserve drivers in 2023,” he outlined.

I’ve been behind the wheel of both the MCL35M and MCL36, and it has been a great experience, so I can’t wait for the involvement with next year’s car.

I look forward to continuing my development as a driver, and I appreciate the trust McLaren has in me with this new role next year.

According to the British squad, the driver will combine his IndyCar-F1 role, providing support for the team, and being available as a reserve driver for all events that do not clash with his previous commitments.

The 25-year-old, who in 2021 became the first Spanish driver to win the NTT IndyCar championship, made his maiden appearance in a Formula One Grand Prix weekend last October, taking over Daniel Ricciardo’s car in the FP1 session at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in the United States.

After making his Formula One debut in Austin behind the wheel of the MCL36, a thrilled Palou said: “The whole session was full of excitement. It is hard to choose one thing that stood out, but going through Sector One in a Formula 1 car during a quali run - the feeling you get there is awesome.”

Adding: “It was amazing. I loved every second of it. I wish I had more time because it was super enjoyable as a driver. We collected the data we needed and completed the program.

We did a lot of engineering work, trying to get as much knowledge from the engineers as possible, and I learned a lot.

Once that was done I could spend some time getting data for myself and continuing to get comfortable. I am super happy with how it went and the performance that we got. I felt strong.”

The Sant Antoni de Vilamajor native completed a 21-lap stint on medium tires, finishing with the 17th fastest time overall.

As part of the McLaren Testing of Previous Cars program, Palou drove on home soil, the MCL35M at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, as at the Red Bull Ring circuit in Spielberg, Austria.

Andreas Seidl, McLaren F1 Team Principal, commented: “The team is pleased to have Alex on board as one of our reserve drivers for next season.

He impressed with his FP1 session in Austin and his Driver Development tests this year. He has many notable motorsports achievements so far, particularly the 2021 INDYCAR championship title.

It’s brilliant to be able to expand his role in the team, and we look forward to working more closely with him.”

Palou has claimed four victories, two pole positions, and 15 podiums since he entered the American series in 2020.

He rounded up the 2022 season with a dominant triumph in Laguna Seca at the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, ending fifth in the drivers’ overall standings, summing up 510 for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Briton Lando Norris and Formula One rookie Oscar Piastri are McLaren Racing pairing for the upcoming season.

Cecilia demartini
Sports Pundit staff writer @ceci_2812
Cecilia is a writer and journalist, passionate about motorsport and tennis.Her articles are published in newspapers and international online publications.

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