Friday, July 19, 2024

McLaren Announces new Driver Development Programme, O’Ward, Palou Included

The McLaren F1 Team has unveiled a new Driver Development Programme that will be overseen by former FIA Formula 1 World Championship racer and multiple 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro.

The aim of the programme is to support drivers through from karting up to McLaren’s teams in Formula 1, the NTT IndyCar Series and the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.

Pirro, who raced for the Benetton F1 Team and Scuderia Italia during his time in Formula 1 and was a former test driver for McLaren, has been tasked to oversee the programme, with the Italian delighted to be given the opportunity.

“I am thrilled by this assignment for several reasons,” Pirro said. “McLaren played a crucial role in my career by giving me the opportunity to earn an F1 drive and to elevate myself to a higher level by working alongside [Ayrton] Senna, [Alain] Prost and [Gerhard] Berger.

“Together with my team, my role will assist in creating a state-of-the-art programme, selecting the best possible drivers and providing them with all the tools they need to make the best use of their talent. Furthermore, embed them in the McLaren mission, vision and values and hopefully, have one of them progress to the F1 team.

“An important asset for us are the IndyCar and Formula E teams, which will give extra opportunities for a professional career to our McLaren Driver Development members.

“I love working with young drivers and helping them grow and improve. Every time I did it in the past has been an enriching experience and I look forward to doing it again.

“McLaren has an amazing history in F1. It means a lot to me, and I am hugely proud to be part of this programme. I am grateful to Zak Brown and Andrea Stella for giving me this great opportunity.”

The initial three drivers announced for the new programme are all already linked to McLaren, with IndyCar stars Pato O’Ward and Álex Palou being joined by the McLaren backed Ugo Ugochukwu.

Zak Brown, the CEO of McLaren, says he is pleased to be able to announce the programme that will continue the Woking team’s tradition of bringing young drivers through the ranks and into the highest levels of motor sport.

“McLaren has a long history of developing emerging talent into top-level racing drivers and I’m proud that will continue long into the future,” said Brown.  “We have an experienced team here at McLaren, who will be ably led by Emanuele, that are capable of providing the support and resources required to develop raw young talent into highly competitive professional racing drivers.

“With McLaren’s wide racing portfolio across Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E, we’re well placed to help develop young talent from the very start of their careers all the way through to full-time racing or test and development roles.

“We already have an exciting stable of talent, featuring Pato, Alex and Ugo, and I’m excited to continue supporting their development as we start to build the McLaren Driver Development programme.”