McLaren team principal Andrea Stella has confirmed Pato O’Ward will drive for the team again during practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The IndyCar driver has been signed to McLaren since 2020 and also drove in first practice at last year’s Abu Dhabi GP.
O’Ward finished fourth in the IndyCar championship which concluded last weekend. Stella said the team believe he has done enough to qualify for an F1 superlicence.
“We are checking with the FIA, we think he’s eligible now for a super licence,” said Stella. “So he’s qualified to drive a Formula 1 car and be in a position to be one of the [McLaren] reserve drivers.”
O’Ward’s run will fulfil McLaren’s obligation to run rookie drivers in each of its cars over the course of the year. It completed the first of these when Oscar Piastri made his debut for the team in Bahrain.
McLaren also confirmed O’Ward will return for them at the post-season Young Driver Test at the Yas Marina circuit in November.
The team previously intended to also give further testing opportunities to Alex Palou. However he has severed his ties to the team and the two parties are going to court over their contractual dispute.
O’Ward will therefore participate in both events, Stella confirmed. “In terms of the two main events that would have involved either Alex or Pato, they are to do with one more session of free practice one where we have to have so-called young drivers, who are drivers that haven’t participated in more than two races,” he said.
“Then we have 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 one in Abu Dhabi.
“I can confirm that he will also be driving the Tuesday after the race in Abu Dhabi. Therefore, we look forward to having Pato in P1 and in the test.”
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