MIM driver is second best rookie in the McLaren car despite using only one set of Medium tires
“Vamos a por ellos!”, Alex Palou’s battle cry, resounded for the first time during a Formula One weekend as the 25-years old Monaco Increase driver tried his hand for the first time at the wheel of a 2022 Grand Prix car in a Grand Prix weekend. In the frame of his agreement with McLaren, Alex was chosen to drive for the papaya-colored car in the first practice session which took place on Friday afternoon (late evening in Europe) at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, the Texas capital city which has hosted a US Grand Prix since 2012.
In a session which saw five non-works drivers on track, Alex covered 21 laps with a single set of Medium tires, running a different program from almost any other rookie driver. Yet, on fresh rubber, he really impressed by lapping only 0.3 seconds slower than his occasional team-mate Lando Norris on the same tire specification! As the tires wore out, Palou continued his runplan ending the session P17 and the second best rookie driver behind Ferrari’s Robert Shwartzman (who tests regularly on the simulator) that used Soft tires instead. Palou’s best time was 1min39sec911 and obviously obtained in the first part of the 60-minutes session in which he replaced Daniel Ricciardo.
At the end of the practice, Palou’s effort was praised by McLaren’s Team Principal Andreas Seidl who was quoted as saying: “So far Alex has done a good job and I am happy with the way he approached it. Our target was not to chase the fast lap times, but rather to collect as much information as possible for the weekend and try different set-up configurations. He seems to be at ease with the car, which is good”.
As for Alex himself, he could hardly contain his joy at trying out the new beast and as his race engineer pointed out that he was applying too much braking pressure in a given corner and thus locking the rear wheels, he replied over the radio “Yes, I know, but it’s because I’m too fast. This car is insane!”. Even better, apparently, than the 2021 car (very different in tire size and aerodynamics) in two private testing sessions. For Alex Palou, the learning curve in F1 has just begun.