McLaren boss Zak Brown has declared that any of McLaren's pool of IndyCar racers would be capable of transitioning across to Formula 1 after extensive testing.
Throughout summer and autumn of 2022, McLaren ran their own IndyCar driver Pato O'Ward, '21 champion Alex Palou and Andretti Autosport's Colton Herta in TPC (Testing of Previous Cars) testing, with O'Ward and Palou also getting FP1 runouts in Abu Dhabi and Mexico, respectively.
All three drivers have expressed an interest in moving across to Grand Prix racing, but none were able to find a race seat for 2023 with O'Ward and Herta not meeting the 40 point mark required for a superlicence.
Consequently, Palou (below) will step up to become a reserve driver in 2023, attending events which do not clash with the IndyCar calendar.
Following on from the extensive running all three have completed, Brown is confident they would be ready for a switch if the possibility arose.
Brown evaluates IndyCar trio
"They've all done an excellent job, all are very quick and none of them made any mistakes in their TPC testing and FP1 sessions," Brown explained to media including RacingNews365.com.
"They're different personalities as you would expect, and I think all three of them are capable of being Formula 1 drivers.
"Alex was excellent in Austin where he diverged with Lando [Norris] who went into performance runs and he was on long runs.
"With Pato, there was a car issue at the beginning which was a bit unfortunate as he lost 25% of his track time [in Abu Dhabi], but he did a really good job.
"Colton was very strong when he tested by himself.
"It is a little hard to get into comparables as they had different tyres, at different times of the year, but all three did a great job.
"I'm confident all three could race in Formula 1."
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IndyCar drivers could win in F1, Brown
IndyCar has become a destination for those who have left F1 in recent years, with the likes of Romain Grosjean and Marcus Ericsson making the trip across the Atlantic.
Ericsson was a title contender in 2022, and claimed victory in the Indy 500, but not since Juan Pablo Montoya in 2001 has a driver successfully switched to F1.
It is something that Brown feels would not be a problem if regular race winners or champions such as O'Ward, Will Power, Josef Newgarden or Scott Dixon were to switch.
"Some of the comments you get from IndyCar drivers in Formula 1 is: 'Wow, what a machine' and about their neck," Brown explained.
"[They say] how heavy the steering wheel is, so both are equally physically demanding, but in different ways.
"When the drivers initially swap over, they feel the difference between the cars.
"I think there is probably more depth in the Formula 1 field, but guys winning races in IndyCar would win races in Formula 1."
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