McLaren announces a deal with Palou just four hours after Ganassi issues statement saying it had picked up Palou’s option.
Defending NTT IndyCar Series champion Alex Palou is leaving Chip Ganassi Racing after the current season, and he will be racing for McLaren Racing in 2023.
This deal, however, could get interesting, as a press release from McLaren racing announced the shocking move just four hours after Chip Ganassi Racing had announced in its own press release that it had picked up Palou’s option for 2023.
Someone at Ganassi apparently jumped the gun with the following announcement on Tuesday afternoon:
Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) announced today that the team has exercised its option to extend Alex Palou through the 2023 season. Palou won CGR’s 14th INDYCAR SERIES championship in 2021, also becoming the first Spaniard to ever win the season title.
“Alex’s track record speaks for itself,” said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. “He’s a proven champion and one of the most formidable drivers in the world. We are very excited to continue working together.”
The defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion has continued to impress this year, securing his 12th podium finish in his 25th career race with Chip Ganassi Racing at Mid-Ohio.
Palou will return to the CGR fold for his third season with the team next year.
“It’s a great feeling knowing I’ll be back with Chip Ganassi Racing next season,” said Alex Palou. “The team welcomed me with open arms from day one, and I’m excited to continue working with Chip, Mike Hull, the folks on the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda and everyone within the organization. The goals remain the same and we will continue to work relentlessly towards achieving them.”
Instead, the 25-hour Palou will join McLaren for the IndyCar season. The deal will also include an opportunity to test the McLaren 2021 MCL35M Formula 1 car. Fellow IndyCar drivers Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta are also part of that McLaren F1 testing program.
Palou won the 2021 IndyCar championship in just his second year in the series. He is the first Spanish driver to win the IndyCar title.
Palou was as surprised as anyone about the Ganassi press statement.
“I’m extremely excited to join the driver roster for such an iconic team as McLaren,” Palou said. “I’m excited to be able to show what I can do behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car and looking at what doors that may open. I want to thank everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing for everything they have done for me.”
Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing believes that his team’s deal with Palou is good for 2023, despite the Ganassi release that claims it has the option on Palou’s services.
“We have always said that we want the best talent at McLaren, and it’s exciting to be able to include Alex on that list,” Brown said. “I’m also looking forward to seeing him get behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car as part of our Testing of Previous Cars (TPC) program alongside Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta as we continue to build our driver talent. Alex is an incredibly talented driver who has won in every series he has raced in, and I’m happy to welcome him to the McLaren family.”