until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


McLaren's new signing to miss IndyCar 2024 opener

by Jack Benyon
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

David Malukas is set to miss what should have been his Arrow McLaren debut in the IndyCar opener at St Pete next month due to a mountain bike injury.

Malukas, 22, had an operation on February 13 to repair torn ligaments in his left hand, and the team has confirmed his recovery timeline is six weeks after the removal of his stitches on February 22, which would make April 4 the estimated completion date for his recovery.

This suggests he won't miss just St Pete but also the non-championship event for $1 million at the Thermal Club track in late March.

David Malukas, Arrow McLaren, IndyCar

But he should be able to make his return at the next race after that, Long Beach on April 19-21, and the Thermal round's non-championship status means Malukas is only slated to miss one points-paying race.

In the meantime, the team is yet to confirm a stand-in and is evaluating its options, having just received the news of Malukas’s injury and recovery timeline.

“I’m gutted this happened, especially so close to the season,” said Malukas.

“I feel horrible for the team who have worked so hard to prepare for our first season together. I will be working hard to get back on track as soon as I can. I can’t wait to go racing with the team in papaya.”

David Malukas, Arrow McLaren, IndyCar

Team principal Gavin Ward added: “It’s just heartbreaking for David, of course, and our entire team.

“We’ve seen how much work he and this entire group has put into preparing for his first season in papaya. But it’s often how we recover from setbacks and adversity that defines us and our character.

“We will do everything we can to support David in his recovery and when he’s back on track the success will be all the sweeter.”  

Malukas, 22, is set to start his third year in the IndyCar series, after two seasons where he impressed with the Dale Coyne Racing team which had helped launch the careers of a number of young drivers including reigning champion Alex Palou.

With Palou initially set to join McLaren for this season before a U-turn which means he’s staying at Chip Ganassi Racing, McLaren had to move fast in the second half of last year to find a replacement and settled on Malukas as the future driver of the #6 car. Felix Rosenqvist vacated the seat to join Meyer Shank Racing.

Arrow McLaren SP

In terms of replacements for Malukas at St Pete, McLaren will no doubt have a long list of drivers wanting the opportunity to drive a car that will likely be fast enough to fight for the win at St Pete - where Pato O’Ward almost won for the team last year before a plenum fire handed Ganassi’s Marcus Ericsson the win instead.

Among the candidates, ex-Andretti Autosport driver Zach Veach works with the team and could be considered, while the team’s ex-driver Oliver Askew has been eyeing a return to the series in recent seasons after a short stint in Formula E.

The quest for a stand-in driver will be complicated by the fact that two of IndyCar’s full-time seats, both at Coyne, have not been officially filled yet.

Kevin Magnussen, Arrow McLaren SP, IndyCar

McLaren has looked outside of the box for injury replacements before. It gave Kevin Magnussen (pictured above) a runout as the replacement for the injured Rosenqvist for a Road America race in 2021, the year before Magnussen returned to F1 with Haas.

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