O’Ward confirmed for McLaren FP1 run in Abu Dhabi

McLaren has confirmed Pato O’Ward will drive for the team in FP1 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Each team has to run a rookie on at least two occasions during each season, and Oscar Piastri’s debut weekend in Bahrain counted as the first outing. McLaren CEO Zak Brown had previously suggested both Alex Palou and O’Ward (pictured above, with Brown) would get FP1 runs, but after plans to use Palou fell through when the Spaniard opted to remain with Chip Ganassi Racing in IndyCar, McLaren assessed its options and has confirmed O’Ward will now get his opportunity in November.

The Mexican drove in his first FP1 in Abu Dhabi last season and now will repeat the appearance a the final round of the current season, at a track the Arrow McLaren IndyCar star has also driven when taking part in young driver tests. Team principal Andrea Stella has confirmed that O’Ward will get two chances to drive, with a similar test taking place after the race at Yas Marina Circuit.


O’Ward finished fourth in the IndyCar drivers’ standings this season, giving him a total of 34 Super License points from the past three seasons, while he gained an extra point for completing over 100km without penalty in his FP1 appearance last season. But with the FIA appendix allowing a driver to pick results three of their past four seasons due to the impact of COVID, O’Ward can select two fourth places and a third from IndyCar that gives him the 40 required.

“The situation with Pato is we are actually checking with the FIA — we think he is eligible now for a Super License, so he is qualified to drive a Formula 1 car and be in a position to be one of the reserve drivers,” Stella said.

“In terms of the two main events that would have involved either Alex or Pato, they were one more session of FP1 where we have to have a so-called young driver who hasn’t participated in more than two races, and then 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 Free Practice 1 in Abu Dhabi and then can confirm that he will also be driving the Tuesday after the race in Abu Dhabi in one of the two cars that teams are able to put on track. So we are looking forward to having Pato in FP1 and at the test.”

Story originally appeared on Racer