The messy saga surrounding Alex Palou’s racing future was lastly cleared up when the Spaniard mentioned he’ll return to Chip Ganassi Racing in IndyCar subsequent season — after which instantly hopped into one in all McLaren’s automobiles for a System 1 take a look at in Barcelona.
McLaren, in the meantime, mentioned Felix Rosenqvist would return to his IndyCar seat subsequent season as two key items of the sequence’ head-spinning foolish season fell into place.
IndyCar free company went wild in July when Palou, on the time the reigning IndyCar champion, mentioned he had signed with McLaren Racing for 2023 simply hours after Ganassi mentioned it had picked up an choice on the Spaniard.
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Ganassi promptly filed swimsuit in opposition to the motive force, and as they have been navigating via the courts, the edges additionally entered into mediation.
Palou insisted he’d be a McLaren driver in 2023, however indicators that one thing had shifted got here Monday when Palou gained the IndyCar season-finale at Laguna Seca.
With Ganassi standing behind him in victory lane, Palou for the primary time indicated talks along with his present boss have been progressing and a decision might be quickly.
It got here Thursday when he tweeted he had come to an settlement to drive the No. 10 subsequent yr for a 3rd consecutive season.
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Palou mentioned he was grateful Ganassi may even allow him “to pursue F1 testing” with McLaren exterior of his IndyCar commitments.
McLaren posted on social media that each Palou and Pato O’Ward, its present IndyCar drivers, have been taking part in a closed take a look at with older F1 automobiles on Wednesday.
McLaren’s different information was that Rosenqvist can be again with its IndyCar crew subsequent yr in an expanded three-car lineup that provides 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi. Rosenqvist had mainly been on maintain all summer season due to the Palou saga.
McLaren had signed Palou, believing he was free and clear from his Ganassi contract, to drive in IndyCar and take a look at its F1 program. Palou additionally was the backup plan for its F1 crew if McLaren was unable to land the rights to Oscar Piastri.
The Piastri deal was settled two weeks in the past, which all however ended Palou’s shot at transferring to F1 with McLaren anytime quickly.
Getting out of his take care of Ganassi was going to be costly — and though McLaren was prepared to assist fund a buyout, McLaren boss Zak Brown wasn’t going to overpay simply to get Palou a yr sooner than he can on the open market.
Rosenqvist, in the meantime, was in limbo.
If Palou took his seat, he was supposed to maneuver to McLaren’s new System E crew. However a fourth-place end within the Indy 500 made Rosenqvist wish to keep in IndyCar, and he held off on signing the FE contract with McLaren.
McLaren held the choice on Rosenqvist in IndyCar via the top of this month, and the longer it took to resolve the Palou saga with Ganassi, the messier it was going to be for each groups.
Rosenqvist was decided to remain in IndyCar even when it meant leaving McLaren, and McLaren was vulnerable to shedding each Rosenqvist and Palou for 2023.
McLaren — or Ganassi or some other crew — could make a run at Palou for 2024. His take care of Ganassi is his unique two-year contract signed forward of 2021 through which Ganassi held an choice for the third season.
The decision introduced Wednesday just isn’t a contract extension, however is believed to have given Palou an honest wage bump that put him according to different IndyCar champions.
Rosenqvist can also be solely signed via 2023, additionally working in his unique McLaren contract.
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“There’s no higher technique to enter the offseason than with this information,” Rosenqvist mentioned. “I like this crew, and I’m so comfortable to proceed working with all of the unimaginable folks I’ve gotten to know over the previous two seasons.”
Rosenqvist was the highest driver alternative for Juncos Hollinger Racing, which is increasing to 2 automobiles subsequent season. AJ Foyt Racing additionally has to fill the seat being vacated by Kyle Kirkwood, who’s changing Rossi at Andretti Autosport.
It stays unclear if Andretti has one other seat to fill as Colton Herta awaits phrase from F1’s governing physique on if he’ll be authorised for the Tremendous License required to compete within the sequence.
Pink Bull and its junior crew, AlphaTauri, have curiosity within the 22-year-old Californian, however he would not have sufficient gathered factors within the F1 scoring system to have a license to compete.
Michael Andretti informed The Related Press he isn’t in search of a substitute driver for Herta as a result of he would not anticipate the FIA to approve Herta for a Tremendous License. He additionally mentioned Devlin DeFrancesco will return to the crew for the second yr of DeFrancesco’s contract regardless of hypothesis Andretti was attempting to dump the rookie.
But it surely was the Palou saga that was clogging up free company, with even Indy Lights champion Linus Lundqvist uncertain of the place he’ll land.
After clinching the title Saturday at Laguna Seca — then bursting into tears over what the 23-year-old Swede mentioned was the best second of his life — he mentioned his racing future is unclear.
With the Indy Lights title, Lundqvist gained scholarship cash he can use towards an IndyCar journey, however he mentioned most free agent exercise was on pause due to Palou.
He was adamant he will not be again in Lights subsequent season, and when present crew proprietor Henry Malukas was requested if there’s an opportunity he can transfer Lundqvist as much as IndyCar, the motive force put his arms collectively and prayed “Say sure. Say sure. Say sure.”
HMD Motorsports this season partnered with Dale Coyne Racing to offer Malukas’ son, David, a journey on the prime stage. Henry Malukas confirmed his son could be again with Coyne subsequent yr and did not rule out an choice on Lundqvist.
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“It’s undoubtedly potential. We’ve already talked many instances about that, and I hope myself to try this,” Henry Malukas mentioned. “It could be very cool to see him with David. I feel that might be an important crew and that might assist one another push one another similar to we did final yr in Indy Lights. So it’s very potential.”
Coyne at the moment fields two automobiles, one for David Malukas and one for two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato, however Sato doesn’t have a deal in place for 2023. Henry Malukas mentioned he wasn’t certain what the Coyne lineup will appear like subsequent yr.
“I don’t learn about Sato, what his plan is for the longer term. Like zero. However Dale may run three automobiles,” Henry Malukas mentioned.
“Clearly relying on Honda. I do know Honda are in search of a great driver (and Linus) is sitting right here. I undoubtedly assist that, and hopefully we are able to pull it off.”
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