Potential Andretti Global Formula 1 drivers: No. 3 – Alex Palou
Toward the end of the 2023 IndyCar season, Alex Palou mentioned that his chances at a Formula 1 ride were becoming very slim.
He recorded what was easily the most dominant IndyCar season in recent memory, scoring five wins and 13 top five finishes and winning the title before the season finale. But the Chip Ganassi Racing driver again found himself involved in contract drama with Arrow McLaren.
Palou had allegedly signed a deal with McLaren for next season to drive for Arrow McLaren in IndyCar and test for the team in Formula 1 before deciding to stay with Chip Ganassi Racing instead. Why would he want to leave Ganassi anyway, given the incredible season he had just had?
Following his refusal to join Zak Brown and McLaren, the Spaniard’s Formula 1 testing opportunities were gone, and a chance, as slight as it may have been, at a quality Formula 1 seat was completely dashed.
Or was it?
For the short term, it doesn’t appear that Palou has any Formula 1 chance on the horizon, with McLaren out of the picture. But should Andretti enter the sport as planned in 2026, the Spaniard could have a really good shot — and without needing to get out of an existing contract.
While the two-time IndyCar champion doesn’t have any current ties to the team as things stand, Mario Andretti recently offered high praise for Palou.
"“I’ll tell you, [Alex] is certainly some special talent, no question about it. You can always gauge by who the team-mates are, and his team-mates are top-level as well. He’s showing something very special, in every race. “He’s very versatile also, you take him to the difficulty of a specialty street course, you take him on an oval… you take them anywhere, and it seems like he adapts to it. He’s right at the very top, no matter where you take him. So he is a valuable talent for any team.”"
Michael Andretti also offered his take on Palou, mentioned how close he came to signing the him to his IndyCar team a few years ago.
"“He’s very, very good. One of the best drivers in the world, I really believe that. Right now he is the dominant driver of IndyCar. I lost the opportunity to sign him a few years ago. I felt that he was a very talented driver. We were talking and it was about to be done, but something happened that stopped it. But I think there is no doubt that he could be competitive in a Formula 1 car.”"
Andretti Global may well have their lineup set for the foreseeable future, and should Palou stay in IndyCar, it is very hard to see him going anywhere other than Chip Ganassi Racing.
But you aren’t fooling anybody if you say you don’t believe Andretti would want to pry him away to get him into one of their Formula 1 seats. If they wanted to bring him to their IndyCar team previously, why wouldn’t they want him in Formula 1?
Similarly speaking, it’s hard to believe that Palou himself wouldn’t be chomping at the bit to jump ship and join the American team in the world’s premier motorsport series.
It would be a perfect match for both parties; Palou gets his long-awaited and deserved chance at a childhood dream, while Andretti gets a quality young driver they know very well.