Palou reaches deal to race on for Ganassi in 2023 and test F1 car for McLaren


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Alex Palou has confirmed he will continue to drive for Ganassi next year, two months after publicly contradicting their announcement he would stay at the team.

Ganassi and McLaren Racing have been locked in dispute over the future of the 2021 IndyCar champion, who won last weekend’s season finale at Laguna Seca.

In a statement on social media today Palou confirmed an agreement has been reached which will see him continue to race for Ganassi in IndyCar. The arrangement also allows him to take up an opportunity to test an F1 car for McLaren, which he is doing today in a 2021-specification MCL35M chassis. The team has run IndyCar drivers Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward in the past 12 months.

“I’m excited to announce that Chip Ganassi Racing and I have come to an agreement and I’ll be back in the number 10 car next season,” said Palou on social media.

“I’m also grateful that Chip Ganassi Racing will allow me to pursue F1 testing with McLaren outside of my IndyCar commitments. Thank you Chip, Mike [Hull] and the entire team for your willingness to work together and help support both the team and my personal goals throughout this process.”

Palou made his IndyCar debut with Coyne in 2020 before switching to Ganassi the following year. He won the championship in his first season at the team.

However Ganassi’s July announcement it had taken up an option on Palou’s services for 2023 was swiftly denied by the driver. Palou accused Ganassi of issuing the press release “without my approval”, and McLaren subsequently announced it had added the driver to its growing roster of talent.

Palou nonetheless completed the 2022 season with Ganassi, taking fifth in the championship.

Following Palou’s announcement, McLaren confirmed Felix Rosenqvist remain part of their IndyCar squad next year. He will remain alongside Pato O’Ward as Alexander Rossi joins the expanded, three-car line-up.

“There’s no better way to enter the off-season than with this news,” said Rosenqvist. “I love this team, and I’m so happy to continue working with all the incredible people I’ve gotten to know over the past two seasons.

“With everything the team has in the pipeline, the continuing relationship with Pato and the addition of Alex Rossi, we are going to bring our A-game for 2023.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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11 comments on “Palou reaches deal to race on for Ganassi in 2023 and test F1 car for McLaren”

  1. Ok, so I guess McLaren helped Palou secure a better pay for his driving then, right. And maybe some option to run him in F1 in the future?

    A bit of a shame they weren’t able to hammer out an agreement before making it a public mess really.

    1. @bascb I think McLaren did have a signed agreement, however Ganassi also claimed they did. Not sure this is on McLaren since they would have trusted that Palou could sign the contract for 2023 as they wouldn’t have had sight of his contract.

      Overall I think Palou wins (if you want to attribute winners and losers) even if by accident, he stays with a very competitive team and gets an F1 test.

      1. Thing is though @chimaera2003, from the start McLaren (the company, not specifically the IndyCar team) confirmed they had signed some kind of deal with him. So I guess they had always signed that with the cop-out of letting Palou deal with whether he was or wasn’t tied down with Ganassi.

        And yes, I agree that Palou probably gained from the affair, since Ganassi would have to offer him something to solve the matter. And they confirmed they want him to drive for them, so that should also give him a bit of a boost in standing in the team.

        1. @bascb My point is that McLaren won’t have had visibility of Palou’s contract with Ganassi to have an opinion on whether he was free for 2023. They will have relied on Palou (and his management team) telling them in good faith that he was available to drive for them in 2023 with no conflicting contract. Ultimately this is on Palou, not McLaren. McLaren will have signed fully expecting the contract to be executed.

          1. I get that @chimaera2003, but I wanted to highlight that from the onset McLaren have shown they were aware of that and that there was a risk the deal would fall through – their announcement about signing some deal with Palou is still true – they have gone through with giving him a test.

            I do not think McLaren were all that much expecting to see a contract for him to drive for them in Indycar from 2023 go through though. Otherwise they would have announced him as an Indycar driver for the team right away. They did not, and they kept Rosenquist as an option. Or who knows they might have even used it to get Rosenquist to sign a deal that is better for them than it might have otherwise been, since there was this Palou option hanging over the market.

  2. I suspect it wasn’t a coincidence that he dominated Laguna Seca

  3. Penske > Ganassi > Arrow McLaren SC

    with Piastri confirmed there are no openings at McLaren F1 for the next couple of years, so Palou can kiss that McLaren F1 drive goodbye for now. That was a great motivation to switch teams. Now that’s gone, it’s time to focus on Indy again and drive for the best team that has seats available. Drivers tend to want to move up the grid, not down (… oh… and then there’s the legal things as well).

    1. I don’t think there was ever a realistic expectation from Palou to get Piastri’s spot (or rather take over from Ricciardo in the future) @mcbosch.

  4. In contrast to the Piastri situation, most of the rumors coming out of the IndyCar paddock were that Palou’s management was pretty clueless and he was going to lose his case in court if he proceeded against CGR. So this seems like the logical conclusion. He continues to drive for CGR but they allow him to save a bit of face with the McLaren test, which seems pretty moot now that they have signed Piastri and the rest of their driver stable for the other series they compete in is filled to the brim.

  5. Ignore the contracts for a minute, McLaren seems to be driver heavy and I was wondering who was going to take a seat next year unless they became a 4 car Indy car team. Not surprised to see this outcome. No one wants talented drivers sitting.

  6. I really like Rosenqvist, I do think he’s pretty underrated. He was clearly too good for Formula E, and while he tends to take a bit of time to get up to speed he’s pretty decent in IndyCar too – I’d have been happy to see him get into F1. Also he’s pretty cute.

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