McLaren announce IndyCar drivers to fill in for Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris

IndyCar drivers Alex Palou and Pato O'Ward will drive for McLaren in an FP1 session before the end of the season.

With just four races remaining this season and a young driver requirement to complete, McLaren have announced that IndyCar drivers Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward will each take part in an FP1 session before the end of the season.

Palou is set to replace Daniel Ricciardo at next weekend’s United States Grand Prix, whereas O’Ward will sit in for Lando Norris at the season’s final at Abu Dhabi.

The highly talented IndyCar drivers have plenty of experience behind the wheel of an F1 car, having driven McLaren’s 2021 car at various private tests this season.

Along with previously AlphaTauri-linked Colton Herta, the pair are part of McLaren’s testing of previous cars programme, meaning they have experience working with the Woking-based team, albeit not in the 2022 challenger.

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Palou is an extremely decorated IndyCar star despite being only 25-years-old and has four victories and 15 podiums to his name.

The Spaniard is “so excited” to be driving the MCL36 next weekend, potentially in front of some IndyCar fans who have bought a ticket for the F1.

“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.

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“Having driven the 2021 McLaren MCL35M in a few tests now, I can’t wait to put the MCL36 through its paces, and I look forward to helping the team in their preparation for the 2022 United States Grand Prix.”

O’Ward has a bit longer to wait to get his chance behind the wheel of the MCL36 but is nevertheless still very much looking forward to the experience.

The 23-year-old Mexican driver has claimed two victories and two podiums this season alone and has been tipped for having the capability to one day switch to F1.

O’Ward was linked to Daniel Ricciardo’s seat earlier in the year, before Oscar Piastri was announced by the British side.

“I can’t wait to get out on track in Abu Dhabi,” said O’Ward.

“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.”

The two drivers taking part in an FP1 session for the team will fulfil the requirement to use two young drivers in an F1 session, with a number of sides using the same rounds to comply with the requirement.

McLaren boss Andreas Seidl is “excited to offer” the duo “the experience” of taking part in an actual F1 weekend, where all eyes will be set on whether the IndyCar stars can match any of the F1 drivers.

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“Alex and Pato impressed with their recent tests in Barcelona and Austria and we’re excited to offer them the experience in the MCL36,” said Seidl.

“It’s a great chance for them to showcase their skills on Formula 1’s global stage, where the focus will be to help the team prepare for the race weekend and not on ultimate lap times.

“With Alex’s great successes in Indycar, it will be useful for the team to get his feedback on the car and for us to continue to evaluate him as a driver.”