McLaren have announced that 2021 IndyCar champion Alex Palou will drive in FP1 for them in the US Grand Prix next week to help them meet the new rule of giving practice sessions to young drivers.
The Spaniard will drive in place of Daniel Ricciardo at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
Fellow IndyCar driver Pato O'Ward will also feature for McLaren as he will drive at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Lando Norris' car. Both have previously tested McLaren’s away from Grand Prix weekends.
This comes after Formula One implemented a rule from the 2022 season whereby each team’s two drivers have to give up an FP1 session for a rookie who has made two or fewer starts. Each team has to comply with this before the end of the season and for some it is a race against time to give their chosen rookie drivers a chance. The idea behind the rule introduced this year is to help prepare the next generation of drivers for the big time.
While some may see the decision as straightforward for F1 teams to choose when to place their rookies into the cars, there are a lot of factors that go into their selection. For example, they may look at if a certain track is new, whether or not their drivers need the experience to race on that particular track, or if the track in question offers a high risk of crashing which could lead to damage and financial setbacks.
Here is current state of play for each F1 team and their rookie drivers as we approach the final four races of the season:
Red Bull - One FP1 completed
Juri Vips (Spanish GP replacing Sergio Perez)
Ferrari - One FP1 scheduled
Robert Schwartzman (To go at US GP, replacing TBD)
Mercedes - One FP1 completed
Nyck de Vries (French GP replacing Lewis Hamilton)
De Vries has signed with AlphaTauri from the 2023 season.
McLaren - Two FP1's scheduled
Alex Palou (2021 Indycar Champion - to go at US GP replacing Ricciardo)
Pato O'Ward (Abu Dhabi GP replacing Norris)
Alpine - No FP1's scheduled
Oscar Piastri was meant to complete at least one practice for Alpine but left for McLaren.
Aston Martin One FP1 completed, one scheduled
Nyck de Vries (Italian Grand Prix replacing Sebastien Vettel)
Felipe Drugovich (To go at Abu Dhabi GP replacing Lance Stroll)
AlphaTauri - One FP1 completed
Liam Lawson (Belgian GP replacing Pierre Gasly)
Alfa Romeo - One FP1 scheduled
Theo Pourchaire (To go at US GP replacing Valtteri Bottas)
Williams - One FP1 completed, one scheduled
Nyck de Vries (Spanish GP replacing Alex Albon)
Logan Sargeant (To go at US GP replacing Nicholas Latifi)
Haas - Two FP1s scheduled
Pietro Fittipaldi (To go twice at Mexico and Abu Dhabi, TBD who he will be replacing)