SportF1McLaren impressed with Alex Palou after his F1 test...

McLaren impressed with Alex Palou after his F1 test in Austria

The McLaren team has been immersed in two legal battles for its drivers’ contracts during the 2022 season, one with Oscar Piastri and Alpine in Formula 1, which ended with the Australian as the starter for the following year, and another with Alex Palou and Chip Ganassi Racing in IndyCar, since those from Woking assured that the Spaniard would be their property when the campaign was over.

However, after several trials, the one from Barcelona will continue his journey in the United States with the team of the founder of the same name, but that will not prevent him from making his official debut in the Great Circus with the British in free practice for the North American Grand Prix. as part of the agreement they reached. Palou remains hopeful of making it to Formula 1 one day, even though he has expressed a desire to add to his legacy in the country of the stars and stripes, and he will be able to prove himself in Austin.

To do this, the 25-year-old driver was in Austria together with Patricio O’Ward to test the McLaren MCL35M for the second time and get used to what is a single-seater in the highest category of motorsport. Between them, they completed 1,242 km and 267 laps at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, and another 171 laps and 375 km at the Red Bull Ring in preparation for their respective Formula 1 debuts.

“It has been incredible,” the Spaniard said on the English team’s website. “It’s always great to do a test, but it’s even better when it’s consecutive, because you can remember everything you did in the last one, that allows you to relax a bit more and keep learning and improving fast, which means you can show what you can do on the track.

“It’s been really, really fun, and I’ve learned a lot,” he continued. “I’m still not completely comfortable with the car, the speed and grip are crazy, but I’m very happy with our progress.”

The Woking outfit announced last month that they would run those tests with both Spanish-speaking drivers, and have since adapted to the characteristics of the car with which they last won the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.

“It’s been amazing,” Palou continued. “It doesn’t look like he’s been working in a test with a test team, it feels like he’s been doing it in a race with a real racing team.”

“There are many engineers and mechanics working on the same car, and that is incredible. The amount of detail is impressive, and it has been great fun working with everyone,” he said before explaining the differences with his current championship. “The way the McLaren, and a Formula 1 car in general, works in high-speed corners is very different from anything I’ve ever done before, whether it’s IndyCar, Japanese Super Formula or Formula 2. “.

“The speed and details that have to be done to make it work well is insane. I had a lot of fun looking at the data and tried to push myself through the high-speed corners, the two circuits [Barcelona and Spielberg] are quite similar surface-wise, they’re both pretty smooth, so you don’t have to use different techniques,” he said.

“That meant I was able to focus on developing everything I learned in Barcelona more and more. We looked at the parts of my driving that were weak and the areas where I could improve the most, like braking,” the Catalan revealed. “We keep trying to develop those areas rather than work on something new.”

Phil Thomas was the chief engineer at both Palou and O’Ward tests, and was impressed by how quickly the Spaniard established a relationship with the team: “Alex [Palou] has very strong working ties with the engineers , and he’s been able to use that to move forward and improve.”

“He has been working methodically on all the changes he needs to make to exploit the aerodynamic potential of this car,” he said. “He has come a long way and has put himself in a good position for anything in the future. A lot of this test has been based on continuing the work we did in Barcelona.”

“There we established a very good base with both drivers, and now we are trying to see how they take that learning to the track and how they adapt to the different circuits,” said the person in charge of the Spanish and Mexican tests with McLaren.

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