Àlex Palou will make one of his childhood dreams come true, which he had to give up emigrating to Japan and the US to succeed: being an F1 driver. The Catalan, winner of the 2021 Indycar championship, will be McLaren's reserve driver in the 2023 grand prix. This was confirmed by the Woking team.
The 25-year-old driver from Sant Antoni de Vilamajor (Barcelona) will combine his task as an Indycar driver for his regular team, Indianapolis-based Chip Ganassi, with his new role as reserve driver for McLaren. For this reason, he must be available to replace the two officials, Lando Norris and the recently signed Oscar Piastri (ex-Alpine), as long as it does not coincide with Indycar races.
Palou, who made his Indycar debut in 2020 and was champion in the second year, joined McLaren in the summer, amid a rights dispute between Chip Ganassi and the English team. In the end, the young man continued – and will continue – racing for the American team, but at the same time he began to put his leg in F1. In September he carried out some tests with the McLaren at the Circuit de Catalunya, in Montmeló, and at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg (Austria), together with two Indycar rivals, the Mexican Patricio O'Ward and Colton Herta, and already in the October United States GP debuted in the first free practice.
"I'm excited to join the McLaren team as one of their reserve drivers in 2023. I've been behind the wheel of the MCL35M and MCL36 and it's been a great experience, so I can't wait to get involved with next year's car." , Palou has expressed in a statement from McLaren. "I look forward to continuing my development as a driver and I appreciate the confidence McLaren has in me in this new role next year."
For his part, Andreas Seidl, McLaren team manager, welcomed Palou and highlighted his performance in Free Practice1 of the US GP. “The team is pleased to have Àlex on board as one of our reserve drivers for the next season. He impressed with his FP1 session in Austin and his driver development tests this year,” he said, referring to the Montmeló tests.
“He has many notable achievements in motorsport so far, particularly the 2021 IndyCar title, so it is brilliant to be able to expand his role in the team and we look forward to working more closely with him,” says the German, opening the door to a greater participation of Palou in the 2023 F1 World Championship, such as driving on GP Fridays in which he does not collide with the Indycar.