Norris predicts a tough F1 debut for McLaren rookie Palou

Alex Palou and Robert Shwartzman will make their Formula 1 debuts at the 2022 US GP for McLaren and Ferrari, respectively, and their senior teammates told fans what to expect

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Alex Palou will face a testing time in his FP1 debut at the 2022 United States Grand Prix according to Lando Norris, but the Brit backed his temporary teammate to put a good performance in for McLaren.

Palou is one of two rookies making their first appearance in FP1 in Austin as Robert Shwartzman will replace Ferrari‘s Charles Leclerc, Palou was linked with the 2023 McLaren seat now held by Oscar Piastri.

“It’s always tough coming into an FP1,” Norris told the press in Austin.

“Especially in a car he’s never driven before, he’s done some test days in the previous car but this one is quite different, on such a cool track as well so it’s not going to be easy.

“It’s not like you have a lot of time especially with the tyres and things you don’t get that many laps of feeling good grip and things.”

Norris made his F1 debut in 2019 but drove seven free practice sessions for McLaren across the last nine races of 2018.

Lando Norris, McLaren, on the grid

That included an FP1 session at the US Grand Prix, where he placed 12th – one place behind incumbent Fernando Alonso.

Despite three seasons of IndyCar and an extensive junior career, Palou has never raced at the Circuit of the Americas and this will be his first taste of 2022 F1 machinery.

“He’s an extremely good driver,” Norris continued. “I’ve known Alex almost since karting, more personally the last few years but he’s an incredibly good driver, very talented and he’s in the car for a reason.

“He can give good insight, add some valuable details and help us out as much as possible so he’ll do a good job.”

Sainz backs Shwartzman

Carlos Sainz was similarly supportive of his FP1 teammate at Ferrari.

A member of the Ferrari Driver Academy since 2017, Shwartzman won the inaugural FIA F3 season and has had extensive experience in Ferrari machinery across test days.

And the Spaniard backed ‘Bobby’, reminding the Russian-Israeli driver to remember to have fun as well as bringing back valuable data for the team.

“I think he’s going to have a lot of fun,” Sainz said ahead of the race weekend.

“He’s tried the 2021 car before so for sure it’s going to be a bit of a surprise to jump into the 2022 car because they’re quite a bit different, also it’s a new track so plenty of new things.

“I just hope that he does a good job for the team because obviously when you’re a young driver the main thing is to keep the car on track and give the information to the team that Charles isn’t able to give and enjoy it.

“It’s a cool day when you drive an FP1 in front of all the F1 people, sharing the track probably with his idols from the past and it’s a day that I think he needs to take as an enjoyment.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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