McLaren Racing have announced the signing of INDYCAR driver Álex Palou, who will join the team from the 2023 season. Palou will also be serving as a test driver for McLaren’s Formula One team along with Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta as part of the 2021 MCL35M F1 car testing programme.
Palou will join the British team after the end of the 2022 INDYCAR season. The 25-year-old from Barcelona, who is in his second season in INDYCAR, has already had a stellar start to his racing career. Palou won three races and was on the podium eight times in 2021, which saw him win the INDYCAR title last season. Although McLaren haven’t announced which series Palou will race in, it is likely that the Spaniard remains in INDYCAR and races for Arrow McLaren SP.
Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing, commented:
“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.“
Álex Palou said:
“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.“
McLaren’s announcement comes just a day after Chip Ganassi Racing announcing that they have chosen to keep Palou on for the 2023 INDYCAR season. Palou, though, put out his own statement and denied the development about him staying on with Chip Ganassi Racing.
“I have recently learned from the media that this afternoon, without my approval, Chip Ganassi Racing issued a press release announcing that I would be driving with CGR in 2023. Even more surprising was that CGR’s release included a “quote” which did not come from me.
“I did not approve that press release, and I did not author or approve that quote. As I have recently informed CGR, for personal reasons, I do not intend to continue with the team after 2022. This evening’s unfortunate events aside, I have great respect for the CGR team, and look forward to finishing this season strongly together.“
Palou moved to Ganassi in 2021 following his debut season with Dale Coyne Racing. He won the title in his first season but is clear about moving on from the team.
Palou, who is in his second and what looks like final season with Ganassi, is fourth in the Championship table, 35 points behind his teammate and former Formula One driver Marcus Ericsson, who is the current INDYCAR Championship leader.