INDIANAPOLIS — Alex Palou’s top priority remains winning a second straight IndyCar championship.
But his future after this year looks terribly murky.
Shortly after Chip Ganassi Racing announced on Tuesday it would exercise a team option to keep the Spanish star next season, Palou and Arrow McLaren SP said they had agreed a deal for 2023.
“I recently learned from the media that this afternoon, without my consent, Chip Ganassi Racing issued a press release announcing that I would be racing with CGR in 2023”, Palou wrote on Twitter. “Even more surprising is that the CGR post included a ‘quote’ that was not mine. I did not write or endorse this quote. As I recently informed CGR, for personal reasons, I don’t intend to continue with the team after 2022.”
It’s a strange twist in a big week for the McLaren team.
Colton Herta, the young American star that team owner Michael Andretti hopes to put in a Formula 1 car, spent Monday and Tuesday testing for McLaren in Portimao, Portugal.
Then the Ganassi team made their announcement.
“Alex’s track record speaks for itself,” Ganassi said in the press release. “He is a proven champion and one of the toughest riders in the world. We are very happy to continue working together.”
One side, at least, is keen to stick together.
Palou shot to stardom last season by becoming the first Spaniard to win an IndyCar title while handing Ganassi a 14th series crown. Palou has not disappointed this year either, posting four top fives and seven top 10s in the opening nine races.
Despite not winning any races, Palou is fourth in the standings, 35 points behind Indianapolis 500m champion and teammate Marcus Ericsson heading into Sunday’s race in Toronto.
“It’s a great feeling to know that I will continue to work with Chip Ganassi Racing next season,” Palou said in Ganassi’s press release. “The team welcomed me with open arms from day one and I’m excited to continue working with Chip, [managing director] Mike Hull, the NTT #10 data car folks and everyone in the organization. The goals remain the same and we will continue to work tirelessly to achieve them.”
Soon after, Palou said he had other plans.
With the 25-year-old boasting 12 top-three finishes in 25 races since joining CGR, it looks like he’s ready for a change.
“Apart from the unfortunate events of tonight, I have great respect for the CGR team and look forward to finishing this season strong together,” Palou wrote.
McLaren also released a statement saying Palou would serve as a test driver for its F1 team in addition to his full-time IndyCar duties.
If Palou changes teams, it would be the second major addition for McLaren in less than two months. 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi announced in June that he would also join McLaren.
“We’ve always said we want the best talent at McLaren, and it’s exciting to be able to include Alex [Palou] on this list,” said McLaren CEO Zac Brown. “Alex is an incredibly talented driver who has won in every series he has entered and I am happy to welcome him to the McLaren family.”