McLaren announce IndyCar champion as third driver for 2023

2021 IndyCar Champion Alex Palou will be McLaren's reserve driver for 2023.

It’s seemingly an exciting time for Spanish IndyCar driver Alex Palou, following on from his Formula 1 FP1 debut at the United States Grand Prix.

The 2021 IndyCar Champion has quickly risen onto McLaren’s radar in recent years, with the Spaniard having become part of the Woking-based side’s driver development programme where he tests old McLaren F1 cars.

Prior to his FP1 appearance in the MCL36, Palou took part in tests at both Barcelona and the Red Bull Ring in McLaren’s 2021 challenger, the MCL35M, giving the IndyCar driver valuable experience.

His move to become one of the team’s reserve drivers is an incredibly exciting moment for the Ganassi driver, who will be switching to McLaren Racing in IndyCar in 2024.

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Due to the IndyCar calendar, though, Palou will only be the team’s reserve driver at races that don’t clash with a round in the American open-wheeled series, with McLaren yet to announce who’ll hold the role when Palou can’t be present.

The four-time IndyCar race winner and first Spanish IndyCar Champion is “excited” to be taking on a bigger role with the British side, who he thanks for “the trust” they are putting in him.

“I’m excited to be part of the McLaren team as one of their reserve drivers in 2023,” Palou said in an official McLaren press release.

“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 have in me with this new role next year.”

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McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl also added his thoughts on what is seemingly a promotion for Palou, with the team boss revealing how “pleased” the papaya side are to be getting Palou in the garage.

“The team are pleased to have Alex on board as one of our reserve drivers for next season,” Seidl said in the same press release.

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