McLaren boss Zak Brown has said he has made “no promises” to IndyCar stars Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward as they prepare for Formula 1 reserve duties.
After a long saga in the summer of 2022, a deal was struck for Chip Ganassi Palou’s driver – the 2021 IndyCar champion – to be McLaren’s official reserve driver with O’Ward in a test role.
Indeed, as champion Palou has earned enough superlicense points while O’Ward – who currently races for McLaren in IndyCar – still lacks the points he needs to get the document.
Brown is confident his driver will get the points needed in the coming season to qualify, but is confident neither Palou nor O’Ward have received any promises from him about an F1 future.
Brown on the future of Palou and O’Ward
“We announced Alex as our backup driver because he has his super license,” Brown exclusively said. RacingNews365.com asked about the future of Palou and O’Ward.
“He will continue to test with us and Pato will also continue once we solidify our testing plans, but he does not have a super license.
“I think and hope he will be eligible at the end of the IndyCar season. [in 2023]but [there are] no promises [beyond that] other than opportunity.
“As we know, the sport is moving fast and things are happening.
“So to have two guys in IndyCar who have super licenses and who have both been very impressive in a Formula 1 car gives us great depth in our racing and driving possibilities.
Brown hoping for IndyCar success
The McLaren boss also detailed how the team intends to challenge for the IndyCar Championship – and highlighted how the competitive nature of racing can lead to huge fluctuations in the championship.
“We definitely want to be in the top three and compete for the championship,” he explained.
“We want to have three cars fighting for the championship, but it’s so competitive [series].
“On entering the [2022 season finale] At Laguna Seca, five cars could have won the championship, so it’s quite easy to go from third to seventh with a bad race, unlike Formula 1 where things work out a bit more.
“I read that in IndyCar, it’s been 17 consecutive years that the championship comes down to the last race.
“In Formula 1, [to make] a move to championship position is quite substantial [in terms of points]but you can go from third to seventh with a DNF in IndyCar.”
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