Nolan Siegel

Pourchaire makes shock exit from McLaren as Siegel lands long-term deal


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McLaren has announced the surprise signing of Nolan Siegel as a replacement for Theo Pourchaire at its IndyCar team with immediate effect.

Pourchaire was hired by McLaren at the beginning of last month as a replacement for David Malukas, who was unable to take up his place at the team in the opening rounds due to injury.

Siegel, 19, has agreed a long-term deal to drive for the team which includes the rest of this season plus 2025 and more. He will drive the number six car.

“Stability and sustained growth are key to our long-term game plan here, and this is a significant step in that mission,” said team principal Gavin Ward. “First, I want to thank Theo for his time filling in on the number six car with us in recent weeks.

“We’ve been working through musical chairs all season, and ultimately, making this change to Nolan now that he’s available gives us the chance to build a foundation for the future. He is a young, talented driver with an immense amount of experience at this stage of his career and we’re excited to continue on the upward journey together.”

Theo Pourchaire
Pourchaire expected to continue at McLaren
The news appears to have come as a surprise to Pourchaire, who expressed his excitement for the upcoming event on social media yesterday. “I can’t believe I’m gonna race on the legendary Laguna Seca this weekend,” he wrote in a now-deleted post. “Can’t wait to be there for the Grand Prix of Monterey.” Pourchaire left a drive in Japan’s Super Formula series to join McLaren’s IndyCar team.

Siegel said the move is “an unexpected jump, but I’m thrilled to be in this position after a rewarding run in the Indy Nxt by Firestone series with HMD Motorsports.

“I am looking forward to this new journey and learning alongside the entire team starting this weekend in my home state.”

The news is the latest development in a busy few weeks for Siegel. He failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 after crashing on his final run, then received an 11th-hour call-up from Juncos Hollinger to substitute for Agustin Canapino at the last IndyCar round two weeks ago.

Last week he scored a class win at the Le Mans 24 Hours in an LMP2 car run by United Autosports, which is co-owned by McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown. Siegel shared the car with Oliver Jarvis and Bijoy Garg.

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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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35 comments on “Pourchaire makes shock exit from McLaren as Siegel lands long-term deal”

  1. Gosh darn it McLaren, you don’t make it easy to be a fan.

    Honestly, no team has jerked around more driver contracts in IndyCar than McLaren, and it’s not even close.

    1. Add in a bit of Trump pandering and it’s becoming clear that McLaren is hardly a team one can get behind.

    2. They are not doing much for their own reputation, that’s for sure. When you have that kind of driver turnover, the problem is usually not with the drivers…

      1. @nanotech at least in the case of Palou, we know from the ongoing legal case between Palou and McLaren that Palou “admits that he renounced his contractual obligations” to McLaren and accepted fault there – all he’s disputing in that case is the amount of compensation McLaren should be paid in return.

        1. notagrumpyfan
          19th June 2024, 6:56

          That makes it even worse; drivers want to leave even if they have to pay.

          1. notagrumpyfan, given that Palou ended up also being sued by Ganassi for breaching his contract with them in 2023, that seems to be more of a problem with Palou.

    3. I think that is a fair assessment, especially with Felix Rosenqvist who they seemed to string along quite a bit, although I think there is some partial mitigation here, at least with the David Malukus situation.

      It didn’t help that David Malukus broke some bones (arm?) and it seemed he was there for the long haul. Theo Pourchaire was never a long term consideration (he would have dumped McLaren immediately if an F1 seat came along) and it does sound like they have at least locked in Nolan Siegel for the longer-term.

  2. Makes no sense! He seemed to be doing a pretty good job in the car .

    1. Money talks!

      1. The new guy is wealthy? People saying he is super wealthy but all I could find is that his dad worked at Menlo Ventures…

  3. It’s harsh on Pourchaire, but I can understand why they’ve done this. This was a marriage of convience. Pourchaire is still contracted to Sauber after all, unless he’s prepared to give up his F1 dreams he is not a long term option for Mclaren, and Pourchaire did not seem to enjoy superformula and saw a good opportunity at Mclaren in Indycar. He’s performed really well, but if he has no interest being in Indycar long term then Mclaren has to look for a driver they can commit to and make part of their project for years to come.

    It’s surprising to me just how people are thinking very much in the short term with Pourchaire and failing to see Mclaren are looking to the long term. It should have been Malukas, dropping him for being injured was the strangest decision, whereas picking Siegel as a driver who wants to make a career in Indycar over Pourchaire who is contracted to an F1 team and sees this as a platform to getting an F1 seat, that makes more sense to me.

    1. The key words here are “he wants” (to be in F1). He wants, sure, but odds are that he never will be. Potential contractual issues aside (I haven’t read his contract, nor even gossips about it), I think that a smart thing for him would be a longterm Indy commitment, since he can’t even go back to F2, and F1 is just a dream.

      1. It’s hard to convince any 20 year old to give up on their lifelong dream. It’s probably ever harder to convince him when he’s been either the best or one of the best throughout his junior career.

        1. I’m sure Mclaren would have loved to have signed him long term to their Indycar program. But the question is would Pourchaire have been prepared to give up on the F1 dream. Since Mclaren have signed Siegel I would guess the answer is no.

          Right now Sauber/Audi seem to be struggling convincing drivers to sign up to their project since they’re dead last right now. Sainz hasn’t been convinced, Ocon looks like he may go to Haas. It would leave Audi with limited options. Maybe they keep Bottas even though he seems to have been aggravated by how they’ve handled things. Rightly or wrongly Pourchaire may view that as an opportunity for him to get that seat.

          1. Laz The thing is that he doesn’t have any involvement with Audi & Audi has full control over driver choices, so his chances of a full-time drive at Team Hinwill effectively went away in January when the full takeover was completed.
            They clearly haven’t been interested in him, so I doubt they’d suddenly change their mind.
            I’m relatively sure Bottas will stay put if neither Sainz nor Ocon accepts their offer, & even Gasly could be an option despite being likely to continue at Alpine.

          2. You are probably right Jere. Audi does not seem interested in him. But does Pourchaire realise that? It’s difficult to give up on a dream when it’s so close. If Pourchaire was prepared to give up on F1 I’m sure Mclaren would have signed him, but there’s been no indication he’s prepared to he leave his role within Sauber/Audi so he was simply on loan for the time being.

          3. have Alpine confirmed who will replace Ocon?

    2. All fair points. It’s just sudden replacement 5 races in to a season is not typically the mark of long-term planing.
      I didn’t know about the Sauber affiliation. Makes more sense. Thanks!

      1. Yeah he’s actually their reserve driver. So if something happened to Bottas or Zhou he would have jumped into the Sauber over driving for Mclaren’s indycar team. Agreed it doesn’t look like great long term planning, it’s really all about what happened with Malukas where dropping him is what didn’t make any sense to me. Pourchaire was their stand in and could have done the entire season. But for some reason they dropped Malukas and had to go looking for another long term solution and it appears they decided on Siegel.

        1. Gavin Campbell
          19th June 2024, 14:28

          Rumours are Malukas was signed with a 3 or 4 race break clause for the season. He missed all the races up to that point and still wasn’t fit.

          Once the decision was he was missing the 500, McLaren either had to keep him, pay for him until he got fit or drop him.

  4. Agustín Canapino is going to bed with the BIGGEST SMILE on his face tonight
    Argentine fans are partying like it’s a national holiday

    1. CD (@clipperdael)
      19th June 2024, 8:29

      Imagine the scenes if Canapino were to take another mysterious leave of absence only for the 78 to be taken over by Pouchaire…!

      It’d be a shame though if we didn’t see him in the series again. Hmm, maybe he’ll wind up with a ride at Chip Ganassi somehow?

    2. The drama associated with all of this is just unreal. Pouchaire just got all his belongings shipped over to his new residence in Indianapolis.

  5. This looks like a Stroll-Ocon situation and smells like a Stroll-Ocon situation.

  6. Yeah, the rumor mill is that Arrow is about to back off from the partnership and McLaren needed another source of funding, hence Siegel and his dad.

    It also helps that Siegel is part of the LMP2 United Autosports team that just won their class in Le Mans. Last I checked, Zak Brown still owns that team

    1. Brown owns United together with Richard Dean, yes.

    2. Yes heard that rumor, but McLaren seems to have an outstanding portfolio of sponsors. Zak is probably the best guy in F1 and IndyCar at landing them. Seems weird that this would all be about going with a ride buyer.

  7. Any chance Pourchaire gets the Audi or Alpine seat next season?

  8. Driver changes are a constant in Indycar, I don’t see this that much of a shock move TBH.

    1. Stephen Taylor
      19th June 2024, 11:48

      Not during a season

    2. They are common in lesser teams which support themselves by selling their seats to the highest bidder on a race-to-race basis (like Dale Coyne Racing for example) or when a driver doesn’t perform and the team is risking to lose the Leader’s Circle payout at the end of the year (only the best 22 all-season entries get the money). But they are very rare in top teams, only if there was an injury.
      So yes, this is a shocker.

  9. geoff Kennedy
    19th June 2024, 11:30

    Since the Trump stunt I am done with them

  10. Did not know he was a Sauber reserve driver.
    Thanks for providing this important missing piece of the puzzle.

  11. Just to remind everyone of Theo’s F2 performances with ART:

    2021, outscored teammate Lungaard 140-50 despite being only 17-18 years old.
    2022, outscored teammate Vesti 164-117
    2023, outscored teammate Martins 203-150, en route to the title.

    Then at Detroit this year, he was easily the fastest McLaren in qualifying and only just missed out on the fast 6, where he might have contended for pole.

    So while it seems there aren’t too many F1 teams knocking on his door, this track record speaks for itself. Indeed, Lundgaard is regarded as a top talent for RLL but let’s face it – Theo dominated him when they were both rookies in F2.

    I don’t care where he ends up, but I’m confident we won’t have seen the last of him.

  12. Luckily for McLaren the driver management department is the worst part of their motorsport efforts, because if engineering was run this poorly they’d be in BIG trouble.
    From Indy, to F1 & to GT’s McLaren’s driver management is a complete disaster with the exception of Lando Norris, and that’s probably because he’s a little too laid-back for his own good.

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