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IndyCar racers Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward set for FP1 sessions with McLaren in Austin and Abu Dhabi

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ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 14: Pato Oâ  Ward of Mexico and McLaren F1 looks on in

IndyCar racers Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward are set to make their Formula 1 race weekend debuts this season, when they run in first practice sessions for McLaren.

Both drivers have previously driven last year’s McLaren car in private tests, but will now get a taste of current F1 machinery in a Grand Prix weekend environment, as McLaren look to fulfil their obligation under the regulations to give two young drivers practice runs.

READ MORE: Theo Pourchaire to make FP1 debut with Alfa Romeo at Austin – and take reserve driver role in 2023

Spanish driver Palou – the 2021 IndyCar champion – will take over Daniel Ricciardo’s car for FP1 at next week’s United States Grand Prix at Austin.

Meanwhile Arrow McLaren SP driver Pato O’Ward will take the wheel of the MCL36 in first practice at the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Palou said: “I’m so excited to be making my F1 weekend debut. 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 said: “I can’t wait to get out on track in Abu Dhabi. 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.”

McLaren boss Andreas Seidl added: “We’re pleased to give Alex and Pato the opportunity to take part in Free Practice sessions with McLaren. 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.

“Alex and Pato impressed with their recent tests in Barcelona and Austria and we’re excited to offer them the experience in the MCL36. It’s a great chance for them to showcase their skills on Formula One’s global stage, where the focus will be to help the team prepare for the race weekend and not on ultimate lap times.”

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