Alex Palou impressed the McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl with his approach to his FP1 debut at the United States Grand Prix, despite not getting to set a headline lap time.
The 2021 IndyCar champion carried out one of McLaren’s two mandatory rookie outings during FP1 sessions this season in Austin, with Pato O’Ward set to do the other in Abu Dhabi. Both drivers have been testing a 2021 car in recent months and Seidl says he was confident Palou had the right mindset for the session even though he was never given a set of soft tires to see how his raw pace stacked up in the final standings.
“A great job from his side on Friday,” Seidl told RACER. “I was very pleased to see how he was approaching the challenge as well, because it was important that he simply focused on the task that we gave him which was contributing to our race weekend and not really going for the ultimate lap times.
“He did well, which was not a surprise because we saw at the old car testing that we did so far this year that he is absolutely up to the job so very happy. I think he enjoyed it as well, he had fun, so both sides very happy which was the goal.”
McLaren went on to have a strong weekend with Lando Norris as he finished sixth ahead of the Alpine drivers and helped close the gap in the constructors’ championship to just six points.
“Very happy. Thanks to a great job from the team in terms of strategy, thanks to a great job by the pit crew with pit stops and thanks to a great job from Lando on track we could score this P6. The first car behind the Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari – I think we pretty much maximized everything we had.
“The goal obviously is to keep this battle open until the last lap in Abu Dhabi. I think we have everything as a team – together with our drivers – to do that, and that’s what keeps us going in this long season.
“We just have to keep going, doing our job, making sure we maximize everything, have clean weekends, reliability will be important as well and we’ll just try to score with both cars again (in Mexico).”