Alexander Rossi is set to move to Arrow McLaren SP for the 2023 IndyCar season. But what car will he drive? That answer could have big ramifications.
Confirming months of speculation, Arrow McLaren SP announced on Thursday that Alexander Rossi is set to join the team for the 2023 IndyCar season, ending a seven-year run for Rossi at Andretti Autosport.
While the move was seen as inevitable for quite some time, Wednesday’s news truly made it a matter of “when”, not “if”. Andretti Autosport confirmed on Wednesday that Kyle Kirkwood, who is currently in his rookie season as the driver of the #14 Chevrolet for A.J. Foyt Enterprises, is set to replace Rossi behind the wheel of the #27 Honda next year.
But there was one thing missing from Arrow McLaren SP’s confirmation of Rossi for 2023, and that is which car he is going to drive.
While car number may seem like a formality, if there is any situation in which it’s not, it’s this one.
We already know that Pato O’Ward is set to return to the #5 Chevrolet, as the team announced a multi-year contract extension for him during the week leading up to last Sunday afternoon’s 106th running of the Indy 500.
Arrow McLaren SP also run the #7 Chevrolet for Felix Rosenqvist, but next year, they plan to expand from a two-car operation to a three-car operation.
Even with the expansion, Rosenqvist’s future with the team is far from certain. Naturally, if he returns for a third season, he would return as the driver of the #7 Chevrolet, and Rossi would pilot a different car.
But the lack of confirmation of either scenario illustrates that there are other drivers in play to potentially drive that third Arrow McLaren SP car next year.
Rosenqvist is obviously in the mix, especially given his recent improvement in form, and another obvious candidate is Rinus VeeKay, who has impressed in his two-plus seasons with Ed Carpenter Racing behind the wheel of the #21 Chevrolet.
But there is another candidate, and according to Tony Kanaan, “people will fall off their chairs when they know”.
That candidate would be none other than reigning champion Alex Palou, who is only in his second season with Chip Ganassi Racing behind the wheel of the #10 Honda.
Despite returning to the team in 2022 and proving himself as a serious Indy 500 contender and a championship contender once again, he could very well be on his way to Arrow McLaren SP and Chevrolet in 2023.
So don’t, for one second, think that Arrow McLaren SP “forgot” to mention Rossi’s car number for 2023 in the announcement that he will be joining the team.