Another potential Ricciardo replacement joins McLaren roster

Michelle Foster
Alex Palou is greeted by IndyCar fans. Ohio July 2022

Chip Ganassi driver Alex Palou is greeted by IndyCar fans. Ohio July 2022

McLaren have signed reigning IndyCar champion Alex Palou for the 2023 season as the team ‘continues to build talent across all of its racing series’.

There was some confusion on Tuesday as to Palou’s 2023 team, his current Chip Ganassi Racing outfit confirming him for next season in a press release that even included a quote from the driver.

The Spaniard took to social media to deny that he had extended his stay with the team, saying: “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.”

Later that day McLaren announced that they had in fact signed the 25-years-old ‘to race for McLaren starting in 2023’.

Part of his deal includes a test with the McLaren F1 team, Palou to test a 2021 MCL35M F1 car along with his fellow IndyCar drivers, Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta.

McLaren CEO Zak Brown welcomed the driver, but perhaps more interestingly highlighted his upcoming McLaren F1 test while at no point mentioning that he’ll be racing for the team’s IndyCar outfit.

“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,” said the American.

“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.”

Palou’s signing comes as once again Daniel Ricciardo’s future at the team is being questioned.

Although McLaren have stated that he is contracted to the team for next season, reports suggest Oscar Piastri’s manager Mark Webber is pushing for the Aussie to replace his compatriot as Lando Norris’ team-mate.

Palou’s name is now in that hat too.

“I’m extremely excited to join the driver roster for such an iconic team as McLaren,” he said.

“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.”