Following the news that Alex Palou is set to join McLaren for 2023, the next IndyCar silly season move seems fairly obvious.
A bizarre sequence earlier in July resulted in Chip Ganassi Racing exercising their option to extend Alex Palou’s contract through the 2023 IndyCar season, only for Palou to refute the report and sign with McLaren.
Arrow McLaren SP had not yet confirmed their third driver for the 2023 season, and the specific series in which Palou will compete has not yet been determined.
He could still technically compete in Formula E, in which case Felix Rosenqvist would remain behind the wheel of the #7 Chevrolet. The second McLaren Formula 1 seat could still technically become available as well, and there’s always Extreme E…
But one obvious option is, of course, IndyCar, alongside Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi.
Chip Ganassi Racing have since stated that Palou remains under contract with the team through the 2023 season, though many believe that this is just a way for them to force an expensive buyout prior to Palou’s eventual departure.
They proceeded to sue him over the contract dispute, only for Palou to reiterate that he is indeed joining McLaren.
But eventually, once official (whatever that even means at this point) confirmation is made, the focus will turn to who drives the #10 Honda in 2023.
The answer to that question should be obvious, given who many believe is the top free agent on the market for 2023.
Following a rocky start to his rookie year in 2020, Rinus VeeKay has had a solid run in his two-plus seasons with Ed Carpenter Racing thus far. Without a contract to compete in 2023, he was always sure to draw interest from around the paddock.
Among those interested should be Chip Ganassi Racing. Take a look at this tweet from over a month ago.
VeeKay, whose name had previously been brought up in regard to the third Arrow McLaren SP seat, is reportedly unable to talk to other teams about a 2023 ride until August.
But when August rolls around next week, don’t be surprised if it is announced that he will join Marcus Ericsson, Scott Dixon, and whoever ends up in the #48 Honda next year.
While rookie Callum Ilott may have been seen as Chip Ganassi Racing’s preferred option, Ilott was recently confirmed by Juncos Hollinger Racing on a multi-year deal, keeping him from signing elsewhere.
Prior to his collarbone injury last year, VeeKay was slated to contend for a top five finish in the championship standings, thanks in large part to his maiden series victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Fortunately, over the offseason, he regained the strength and speed that seemingly disappeared after he suffered that injury. While he hasn’t been error-free, his performance this year aligns much closer with what he showed last year before the injury than it does with what he showed after it.
And even in the off chance that it isn’t VeeKay behind the wheel of the #10 Honda next year, as there are still technically other options, it goes without saying the announcement of Palou’s replacement is going to be a big one.