2021 IndyCar champ Alex Palou staying at Chip Ganassi Racing and won't drive for McLaren in 2023

·2 min read

Alex Palou is not moving to McLaren in 2023 after all.

The 2021 IndyCar Series champion announced Wednesday that he would be staying with Chip Ganassi Racing for another season. The announcement came weeks after both CGR and McLaren had made announcements on the same day saying that Palou would be driving for them in 2023.

Not long after Palou said he was staying at Ganassi, McLaren announced that Felix Rosenqvist would return to the team in 2023. Rosenqvist will be part of a three-car team with Alexander Rossi and Pato O’Ward. Rossi is heading to McLaren from Andretti Autosport.

The confusion surrounding Palou’s immediate future in IndyCar apparently stemmed from an option year Ganassi held in his contract. The team said in its announcement that it had exercised that option on his deal while Palou said that the quotes from him in Ganassi’s release had been made up.

That public acrimony didn’t last long, perhaps because of the cost of getting out of the contract. McLaren recently deleted the tweet announcing Palou’s arrival, a sign that he was going to stay with Ganassi unless an agreement to get out of the contract was reached.

McLaren did say Wednesday that Palou would be part of its Formula 1 testing program going forward. The team is set to field cars for Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri in 2023 — similar to Palou’s situation, Alpine had said that Piastri would drive for them in 2023 — and has also held a test for IndyCar driver Colton Herta. Palou could conceivably head to McLaren in 2024 to either drive for the IndyCar team or potentially start working his way to Formula 1.

Palou has four IndyCar wins and 15 podium finishes across 47 races in three seasons. He won the final race of the 2022 season on Sunday and finished fifth in the points standings as Will Power won the IndyCar Series title.

NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 07: NTT IndyCar series driver Alex Palou waits in the pits for the start of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on August 7, 2022, on the streets of Nashville in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 07: NTT IndyCar series driver Alex Palou waits in the pits for the start of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on August 7, 2022, on the streets of Nashville in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)