IndyCar: Key detail left out of Alex Palou, McLaren announcement

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing, McLaren, IndyCar (Photo Credit: The Indianapolis Star)
Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing, McLaren, IndyCar (Photo Credit: The Indianapolis Star) /

McLaren announced that IndyCar champion Alex Palou is set to join the team for the 2023 racing season, but there was one key detail missing from that announcement.

Tuesday proved to be one of the most interesting days in IndyCar silly season history, with Chip Ganassi Racing, McLaren, and Alex Palou at the forefront.

Hours after Chip Ganassi Racing announced that they had exercised their option to retain Palou’s services through the 2023 season, Palou refuted the report, and minutes later, McLaren announced that they had signed him for next year.

Shortly thereafter, Chip Ganassi Racing reiterated that Palou remains under contract with their team through the 2023 season, a move that many believe could be a strategic way of ensuring an expensive contract buyout before the 25-year-old Spaniard ultimately departs the organization and joins McLaren.

But even with all signs pointing to the reigning series champion joining McLaren for 2023, there was one thing missing from McLaren’s own announcement.

Here is what Palou had to say in the McLaren team release.

"“I’m extremely excited to join the driver roster for such an iconic team as McLaren. I’m excited to be able to show what I can do behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car and looking at what doors that may open. I want to thank everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing for everything they have done for me.”"

Here is what McLaren CEO Zak Brown had to add.

"“We have always said that we want the best talent at McLaren, and it’s exciting to be able to include Alex on that list. I’m also looking forward to seeing him get behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car as part of our Testing of Previous Cars (TPC) programme alongside Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta as we continue to build our driver talent. Alex is an incredibly talented driver who has won in every series he has raced in, and I’m happy to welcome him to the McLaren family.”"

What was not confirmed, however, is the series in which Palou will compete for the organization next year.

There are several options. Of course, there is the third IndyCar seat at Arrow McLaren SP alongside Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi, whom the team signed from Andretti Autosport for 2023.

Felix Rosenqvist currently competes alongside O’Ward and has a deal to be back with the organization next year, but that deal doesn’t tie him to IndyCar. Rosenqvist — or perhaps Palou — could end up in Formula E instead.

There is also some uncertainty surrounding the organization’s second Formula 1 seat as well. Though Daniel Ricciardo is under contract through 2023, there are rumors that he could decide to leave the team after the 2022 season. However, Palou is not seen as a frontrunner for that seat alongside Lando Norris if Ricciardo opts to leave.

Next. Notable omission from Toronto entry list. dark

McLaren also field an Extreme E team, but the idea of Palou leaving an IndyCar team for which he won the championship in his first season just to compete in Extreme E would be, with all due respect to Extreme E, nonsensical.