2021 IndyCar champion Palou joins McLaren as F1 reserve driver

2021 IndyCar champion Palou joins McLaren as F1 reserve driver

The Spaniard, who won his first IndyCar title with Ganassi in only his second season in the series, made his Grand Prix weekend debut this year when he drove the McLaren in the opening practice of the United States Grand Prix.

He had also tested the MCL35M at Barcelona and the Red Bull Ring as part of his role in the team’s driver development programme.

Palou will compete in IndyCar next year, but will act as a reserve for McLaren whenever American series racing does not clash with F1 grand prix. Currently, the series will face off 12 times in 2023.

“I am delighted to be part of the McLaren team as a reserve driver in 2023,” said the 25-year-old Spaniard.

“I’ve been behind the wheel of the MCL35M and the MCL36 and it’s been a great experience, so I’m looking forward to being involved in next year’s car.

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

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl added: “The team is delighted to have Alex as one of our reserve drivers for next season. He impressed with his FP1 session in Austin and his driver development tests this year.

Alex Palou, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport footage

“He has many notable achievements in motorsport so far, in particular the 2021 IndyCar Championship title, so it’s great to be able to expand his role in the team and we look forward to working with him more closely. “

Palou will stay with Ganassi for his fourth season in IndyCar. This year, the Catalan rider finished fifth in the standings.

McLaren will have Lando Norris and rookie Oscar Piastri – the 2021 FIA Formula 2 champion – in their Formula 1 team next season, with the Australian replacing compatriot Daniel Ricciardo alongside the Briton.

Ricciardo will return to reigning F1 world champions Red Bull – with whom he raced from 2014 to 2018 – as a reserve driver, having initially been linked with a move to Mercedes in the same role.

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