Palou gets McLaren F1 reserve driver role for 2023

2023 F1 season

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IndyCar champion Alex Palou has been named as a reserve driver for the McLaren Formula 1 team for the 2023 world championship.

The 2021 IndyCar Series champion will be the team’s official reserve driver for all grands prix in 2023 that do not clash with his IndyCar races with Chip Ganassi.

The 25-year-old had previously tested a 2021-spec McLaren MCL35M under F1’s ‘testing of previous cars’ programme, running in Barcelona and at the Red Bull Ring in private tests. Palou also participated in the first practice session of the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in October, taking the place of Daniel Ricciardo for the hour-long session.

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl says the team were pleased to confirm Palou as one of its reserve drivers for next season.

“He impressed with his FP1 session in Austin and his driver development tests this year,” said Seidl. “He has many notable motorsports achievements so far, particularly the 2021 IndyCar championship title, so it’s brilliant to be able to expand his role in the team and we look forward to working more closely with him.”

Palou said that he was excited to join McLaren as an official reserve driver for the 2023 season having gained experience of the team’s two most recent F1 cars.

“I’ve been behind the wheel of both the MCL35M and MCL36 and it has been a great experience, so I can’t wait for the involvement with next year’s car,” he said. “I look forward to continuing my development as a driver and I appreciate the trust McLaren have in me with this new role next year.”

Palou won the 2021 IndyCar championship and finished the 2022 season fifth in the drivers’ standings. He was embroiled in a contract dispute between Chip Ganassi Racing and McLaren during the season over which team he would race with for 2023. After legal action by Ganassi, the two teams reached an agreement that will see Palou continue with Ganassi for 2023.

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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7 comments on “Palou gets McLaren F1 reserve driver role for 2023”

  1. Alex is really good. One of those athletes so good he makes it look easy. Better than many of the drivers on the F1 grid.

    1. This is one of those 3rd driver announcements where one really gets excited to see them actually get a shot behind the wheel!

      It does show that there is serious interest from McLaren to tie Palou up for the future.

  2. Interesting that the non-McLaren IndyCar driver gets the reserve role over the actual McLaren IndyCar drivers.
    I bet they don’t want Pato losing focus, but swaying Alex with F1 is a good move for destabilising Ganassi.

    1. @eurbrun Well, none of the actual McLaren IndyCar drivers are eligible for superlicences…

    2. Indeed! Palou is an IndyCar champion, but Patricio O’Ward is still a rising star who may win it one day, so it’s surprising. But it’s really smart of McLaren to grab the most talented drivers there are. IndyCar has a pool of best talent that F1 teams have been so far too stupid not to take from. Young kids in F2? Their a waste of time.

  3. If/when Mick joins Mercedes as their regular reserve driver, I reckon he’d also share reserve duties in other Mercedes-powered teams whenever their nominated such drivers are unavailable over their other racing commitments.

  4. I’m glad to see Indycar drivers getting pulled closer to F1. The single stream of talent from F2 is making the sport too homogenous. FIA is giving F1 another good reason to split from them by inflating the importance of their other series at the cost of F1 competition.

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