IndyCar: Alex Palou, McLaren situation takes another bizarre turn

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

The crazy IndyCar silly season development involving Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing, and McLaren has taken another interesting turn.

The story of IndyCar silly season thus far has undoubtedly been multiple teams laying claim to the services of reigning series champion Alex Palou for the 2023 season.

Back in July, Palou, who is currently in his second season behind the wheel of the #10 Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, had his option picked up by the team to return for a third year in 2023. But just a few hours later, McLaren announced that they had signed the 25-year-old Spaniard for next year.

Interestingly, the McLaren announcement came from McLaren, not specifically the Arrow McLaren SP IndyCar team, leading to some speculation that this could perhaps lead to Palou’s entry into Formula 1 — or that perhaps the announcement couldn’t legally tie him to the IndyCar organization yet, given his preexisting deal with Chip Ganassi Racing.

Unsurprisingly, the situation has since turned into a legal mess, and with Chip Ganassi Racing suing their own driver for breach of contract, there is an ongoing battle taking place which will ultimately decide where Palou is and isn’t allowed to compete in 2023.

Palou and the #10 team have been able to put the situation at the back of his mind as he continues to compete for a second consecutive championship, but the uncertainty lingers.

And now another recent development has emerged, further adding to that element of uncertainty.

When McLaren announced that they had signed Palou, Palou quote-tweeted their announcement on Twitter to share his excitement. While Palou’s tweet — and his series of tweets calling Chip Ganassi Racing’s earlier press release false — remain, McLaren’s announcement of him joining the organization was recently deleted.

It’s tough to take anything on Twitter too seriously, especially in this day and age of the driver market where even legitimate teams are making “confirmations” that aren’t true, but it’s also tough to take lightly a team going back a month and a half ago and deleting an announcement tweet if said tweet is factual.

The McLaren press release announcing the addition of Palou does remain on the organization’s website, however, but interestingly enough, a link to the earlier Chip Ganassi Racing release announcing his stay now redirects to the team’s IndyCar news page, which only adds to the ongoing and ever-growing confusion.

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McLaren recently announced that Daniel Ricciardo will be leaving their Formula 1 team after the 2022 season, despite the fact that he had a contract that ran through 2023.

Oscar Piastri has been linked to replace him. But he ended up in a Palou-like situation where Alpine claimed to have signed him for 2023, only for him to reject those claims, leading to another legal battle. So McLaren have quite a bit to sort out before they know their official driver lineups for next year.