Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward both feel they are making progress with Formula 1 machinery after their latest tests with McLaren.
The pair were at the Red Bull Ring in Austria last week to continue their program of testing with a previous car (TPC), driving the 2021 McLaren at the circuit used for the Austrian Grand Prix. The run out came just a matter of weeks after their last test in the MCL35M in Barcelona – an opportunity Palou had described as “a dream” – and he was similarly excited with his latest experience.
“The second track that we’ve been in an F1 car and it was an awesome learning experience,” Palou, pictured top, said. “This track is super-fitting for this car and I had a lot of fun.
“I had lots of fun, lots of laps, so it’s been a pretty cool off-season so far. Hopefully I get a chance to meet this car again – overall it has been an amazing project to be part of.”
O’Ward has had more time in the 2021 McLaren than his future IndyCar teammate – having driven it as early as the Abu Dhabi Young Driver test late last year – but it was also his first time in an F1 car at the Red Bull Ring where he made his sole Formula 2 appearance.
“What a beautiful circuit,” O’Ward said. “It’s a phenomenal facility and always a good day to drive a Formula 1 car. I’m really happy with the progress of the day, just getting more and more comfortable with the car.
“Every time I’m in it, every lap I’m doing in it is just a little bit more for your memory bank for when you come back again.”
Both drivers are expected to get further opportunities in the MCL35M with McLaren this year now that the IndyCar season is over, also allowing them to gain experience of a secretion of European F1 circuits, and could also receive FP1 outings with McLaren at one of the remaining four rounds in Austin, Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.