Confusion as Ganassi, McLaren both claim Palou’s 2023 contract

Alex Palou

Chip Ganassi Racing and McLaren Racing are both claiming to have signed a contract with 2021 IndyCar champion Alex Palou for the 2023 season.

Ganassi, which currently fields the Spaniard, announced overnight that it had taken up its option on his services for next year.

A short time ago, however, McLaren Racing issued a press release saying it had come to a deal with Palou, which included Formula 1 testing.

UPDATE: Palou refutes Ganassi announcement

Ganassi’s announcement stated, in part, “Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) announced today that the team has exercised its option to extend Alex Palou through the 2023 season.”

McLaren’s began, “McLaren Racing has signed champion driver Alex Palou to race for McLaren starting in 2023.

“Alongside his racing duties next year, Palou will also test with the McLaren F1 Team as part of its 2021 MCL35M F1 car testing programme with fellow drivers Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta.”

Palou was quoted in both announcements, but in such a way in the latter of the two which suggested he will indeed be leaving Ganassi.

His comment in the McLaren press release was, “I’m extremely excited to join the driver roster for such an iconic team as McLaren.

“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.”

Earlier, he had been quoted by his current team saying, “It’s a great feeling knowing I’ll be back with Chip Ganassi Racing next season.

“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 car and everyone within the organisation.

“The goals remain the same and we will continue to work relentlessly towards achieving them.”

Naturally, both Chip Ganassi himself and McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown spoke glowingly of Palou, whose IndyCar title came in just his second season in the category.

Ganassi said, “Alex’s track record speaks for itself.

“He’s a proven champion and one of the most formidable drivers in the world.

“We are very excited to continue working together.”

Brown said, “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.

“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) programme 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.”

Ganassi currently fields series leader and this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson, six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, Palou, and seven-time NASCAR Cup Series winner Jimmie Johnson.

McLaren had renewed Pato O’Ward and signed Andretti Autosport incumbent for 2023, but its new contract with Felix Rosenqvist left open flexibility for shifting the Swede to its new Formula E programme.

While Herta tested a Formula 1 car with the Woking-based squad in the last 24 hours, his deal is additional to his existing drive at Andretti Autosport.

On the other hand, McLaren’s Palou announcement specifically claims he will ‘race’ for the organisation next year, although whether he will do so remains to be seen.

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