Indycar drivers Pato O’Ward and Alex Palou climbed into the driver’s seat of last year’s McLaren for a Formula 1 car test in Barcelona.
O’Ward and Palou tested the 2021 McLaren MCL35M in a closed setting at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya as part of the team’s Testing of Previous Cars program, the team said on Wednesday.
O’Ward and Palou both have contracts with McLaren to compete in the IndyCar series; O’Ward has been a member of the squad since 2020, while Palou will join the squad in 2024. The 2021 IndyCar champion made his first outing with McLaren after his legal disputes with Chip Ganassi Racing were resolved.
For the upcoming IndyCar season, it was anticipated that the Spaniard would move from CGR to Arrow McLaren SP. However, the American team ultimately prevailed in its battle with Palou, and as a result, he will stay with CGR in 2023.
The 25-year-old is now permitted to test with McLaren in F1, provided that his responsibilities don’t conflict with those related to his IndyCar obligations, perhaps as a sign of good faith and conciliation, from CGR.
Palou was free to make his F1 test debut in Spain yesterday onboard a 2021 McLaren MCL35M after finishing his American season last Sunday at Laguna Seca. Despite the fact that Palou’s outing remains a mystery, McLaren did publish a few images from Barcelona.
Colton Herta drove the exact same car for a few laps around the Portimao circuit in July, and this is the second occasion this year that McLaren has staged such an event. Herta will reportedly test the car once again this week as part of the same program, according to Motorsport.com, but the team has not yet confirmed this.
If Herta does show up, it will be his second time testing an F1 car, and he may even be scheduled for a third outing. According to rumors, Alpine is keeping an eye on him for a prospective test as they look for Esteban Ocon’s teammate for the upcoming season.
Herta has been heavily rumored to be leaving McLaren and joining the Red Bull organization with a seat at AlphaTauri. He doesn’t have the required number of superlicence points, though, and it seems Red Bull hasn’t made much headway in persuading the FIA to give an extension.
The team will have the chance to assess the drivers’ skills in a similar setting during the test in Spain, and they may gain a better sense of who will be sitting in which seat going ahead.
In the Spanish Grand Prix from the previous year, Lando Norris finished P8 and Daniel Ricciardo P6, respectively, in the same car.
McLaren’s sporting production has increased significantly over the past few years, and the team is now much more than merely a Formula 1 team. They entered IndyCar in 2019 as a result of their relationship with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, and in May of this year, they purchased the Mercedes-EQ team in preparation for their transition to Formula E for the 2022–2023 season.
All of this indicates that McLaren has a sizable driver roster, and it has been speculated that drivers might switch between series based on the needs of the organization.
According to rumors, Daniel Ricciardo was presented with an IndyCar seat during his negotiations to leave his Formula 1 team, but he turned it down.
The team has also been adding drivers to their list and trying to give them F1 experience, even if it is unlikely to result in a place given the lengthy contracts Norris and now Piastri have.