McLaren has confirmed that its IndyCar team driver Patricio O’Ward will get a FP1 run as part of rookie run in Abu Dhabi GP.
This will be O’Ward second FP1 outing with McLaren after the Mexican made his debut last year in Abu Dhabi GP itself as part of the FIA rookie run plan. The IndyCar driver will most likely replace Lando Norris in the car to complete the programme.
Considering Oscar Piastri made his F1 debut in Bahrain GP, the Australian fulfilled the FIA requirement after McLaren nominated him as one of the rookie drivers. Alex Palou was at the forefront to get the nod until his u-turn on the IndyCar side.
With Palou now staying with Chip Ganassi Racing, McLaren has nominated O’Ward in his place. The Mexican is likely to undertake the post-season Pirelli tyre testing too. He will formally become one of the reserves of the F1 team with these test runs.
The team, though, is still checking on the superlicense situation, but they believe it is just a formality. “We are actually checking with the FIA, and we think he’s eligible now for the superlicence,” said McLaren team principal Andrea Stella. “So he’s qualified to drive an F1 car and be in a position to be one of the reserve drivers.
“In terms of the two main [free practice] events that would have involved either Alex or Pato, we had to do one more session of free practice one, where we have to have a so-called young driver, so a driver that hasn’t participated in more than two races.
“And then we have the post-Abu Dhabi test. Initially, these kind of events would have been split between the two, but obviously now in this situation, we will have Pato at the wheel in FP1 in Abu Dhabi and then I can confirm that he will also be driving the Tuesday after the race in Abu Dhabi.”
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