Alex Palou, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2022

Pictures: Palou begins F1 test for McLaren in Barcelona

2022 F1 season

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Alex Palou began testing for McLaren’s Formula 1 team at the Circuit de Catalunya yesterday.

It followed the settlement of the long-running dispute between McLaren and Palou’s IndyCar team, Chip Ganassi Racing, over the driver. Palou confirmed yesterday he will continue to drive for Ganassi in IndyCar next year, but the team will allow him to take part in McLaren’s testing programme using its previous F1 cars.

Three days after winning the IndyCar season finale at Laguna Seca, Palou was in action on the F1 track closest to his Spanish home town, driving a 2021-specification McLaren-Mercedes MCL35M.

Palou joins fellow IndyCar drivers Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward in taking part in McLaren’s F1 car testing programme. Andretti driver Herta drove one of the team’s cars at Autodromo do Algarve in Portugal earlier this year while O’Ward, who will remain at McLaren SP next year, tested the same car at Yas Marina last season and also took part in this week’s test.

McLaren is yet to confirm who it will use for the two mandatory practice outings for inexperienced F1 drivers which it must run before the end of the season. While O’Ward, Herta and Palou all qualify, the team would likely prefer to give incoming new 2023 driver Oscar Piastri as much mileage as possible. However that rests on securing agreement from Alpine, who Piastri is contracted to at the end of the season.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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11 comments on “Pictures: Palou begins F1 test for McLaren in Barcelona”

  1. Brilliant talent, he is talent of George and Lando.
    Destroyed everyone in the last race in Laguna Seca, Senna drive by him, great tyre management and race pace.

    1. He had a brand new engine while the rest of the field used old engines. Not the only factor but definitely helped.

      1. Yes he had but after Yellow he had a older tyres and still made a huge gap.
        And no way that new engine is a that big a jump in Indycar.
        And this is not Alex first win with a big lead win in Indycar.

    2. Did you even watch the race, Danny? Didn’t you see what Joseph Newgarden did?!?
      That was Senna like! Although I don’t necessarily remember Senna ever doing such things to be honest.

      1. Palou would be the best Indy driver to race in F1 (The best american driver would be Newgarden but at 31 y.o he’s “too old” for a F1 rookie)
        He’s only 25, and great at tyre managemet.
        The Laguna Seca win, even with a new engine, was incredible. Winning with a 30 seconds margin in a spec series is really difficult.

        1. I agree 100% Cristian. Palou is so good he makes it look easy, and would be the best IndyCar driver to put in an F1 seat. He is so smooth and never looks like he’s working hard. The best American would be New garden but he’s too old. Should be really interesting to hear how the test went for him. I believe he easily has enough super license points also, but now has to finish his Ganassi contact next year.

      2. Yes I saw, great drive for Josef too, he had a help with Yellow Caution, helped him a lot with a progress but still great pace by Josef.

        Sad that nobody looking Alex, Josef, Scott McLaughlin as a chance to drive for F1 Team in 2023. Teams are scared of slow adaptation to F1 cars, but Talent is a Talent, they would smash in F1.

        1. Aside from the engine, didn’t Chip Ganassi Racing test at Laguna Seca? I don’t understand the IndyCar testing regime but I know they kept talking about Penske testing at Portland, which McLaughlin and Power finished 1 and 2 and then Ganassi tested at Lagune Seca where Palou won.
          Anyway it seems which ever track/s the teams can test at appears to give them an edge come race day. The 2022 season seemed to be dominated by Ganassi and Penske drivers, (3 drivers each in the top 6), which appears to indicate that even though it is considered a spec series some teams do it better than others.

  2. As much as I would love to see Palou and Oward at F1, don’t get me wrong, there’s a huge difference between the 2 series. People like to pick Grosjean’s results to make a case of F1 level not being far from Indy, but it’s not easy for a driver to get in a series and compete against other drivers with many years of experience with the car, tracks, tyres, engine, culture, etc. I believe Indy drivers would suffer way more to adapt to F1, even compared to F2 drivers, it’s not a matter of talent alone.

    1. You are right, it’s always hard to adapt but when someone is talented and when you put a pressure on them, they deliver!

      Just look at Scott McLaughlin, bigest and fastest adaptation in history! Brilliant talent and he deserve a chance for F1, just like Alex and Pato.

  3. Actually I think that coming from Indy to F1 would be easier so far as how the car handles. Indy doesn’t have power steering they have a lot less horsepower and the aero is nowhere near the downforce levels of F1. The braking and acceleration is different. F1 cars can go deeper into a turn and accelerate out a lot faster. Indy cars slide around a lot the driver’s all say Indy is a lot more physical car to drive. Just out of curiosity I wish McLaren would publish the times of the driver’s so we could see who was really the fastest as they try them out.

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