McLaren will field IndyCar race winner Pato O'Ward for a reserve driver trial at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
According to F1's sporting regulations, teams are required to have rookie drivers take a certain number of practice runs. In this context, McLaren needed to train a rookie once again.
While Oscar Piastri was put on the track in the first F1 weekend in Bahrain, McLaren was expected to give the second right to Alex Palou, who was expected to be one of its reserve drivers starting from the race in Singapore this weekend.
However, the Woking-based team was forced to re-evaluate things after Palou abandoned plans to join McLaren in IndyCar.
Speaking at the Singapore Grand Prix, McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella said that it was decided that Arrow McLaren IndyCar driver O'Ward would take to the track both in Abu Dhabi free practice and in the post-race tire test to be held the week after the F1 season finale.
This will be O'Ward's first F1 weekend since last year's Abu Dhabi weekend.
Stella said he believed O'Ward had qualified for an F1 super license after finishing fourth in this year's IndyCar championship and could thus join the reserve list.
"We are actually in discussions with the FIA and we think it is suitable for a superlicense at the moment," Stella said.
“So he is eligible to drive an F1 car and be one of the reserve drivers.”
“In terms of the two main [free practice] events where Alex or Pato will take part, we have to do another free practice session where we have to have a so-called young rider, that is, a rider who has not participated in more than two races. Then we have the test after Abu Dhabi.”
“Initially, such events were to be shared between the two, but now in this case, Abu Dhabi