Former McLaren reserve Alex Palou says he is “too old to wait for someone to get hurt” after parting company with the team, claiming an injury to another driver was his only chance of racing in F1.
After making a series of test appearances behind the wheel of previous McLaren F1 cars, Palou represented the team in opening practice at the 2022 United States Grand Prix before being nominated as the squad’s reserve driver for the 2023 season.
However, the relationship between driver and team disintegrated following a contractual dispute last summer in which Palou allegedly reneged on an agreement to join McLaren’s IndyCar operation despite having a deal in place.
Former McLaren F1 tester speaks out on contract saga
Palou will remain with the Ganassi team with whom he claimed a second IndyCar title in three years in 2023, with McLaren now aiming to sue the 26-year-old Spaniard.
Fellow IndyCar star Pato O’Ward has since been installed as McLaren’s reserve driver and participated in FP1 at the 2023 season finale in Abu Dhabi.
Ahead of his return to racing at this month’s Daytona 24 Hours endurance event, Palou has claimed that the contract controversy has only made his bond with Ganassi stronger.
He told Associated Press: “I think this drama has made us a lot closer. Why? I don’t know. Now we just have a normal relationship.
“When you break one time with your girlfriend, then you are even better because you understand each other and all of the previous issues. Suddenly it’s a better relationship.”
Palou went on to argue that “there were no signs that anything was going to open for me in F1”, claiming an injury to McLaren race drivers Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri represented the only chance he had of making the switch from IndyCar.
It is a role, he says, that he is happy to leave to 24-year-old O’Ward.
He added: “I am too old to wait and see if someone gets hurt and that is how I can get my chance. Pato can wait for someone to get hurt.”
Palou claimed that his long-term future is now committed to Ganassi, with the target of winning more IndyCar titles as well as the legendary Indianapolis 500 race.
“We’ll try and get many championships if we can, and we’ll try and fight for as many championships and Indy 500s as possible,” he said.
Palou has never finished higher than second in four appearances at the Indy 500, setting pole position for the 2023 race.