Nearly two months ago, Alex Palou made an announcement via Twitter that kicked off the silly IndyCar season, and just a month later, Oscar Piastri followed suit with a similar announcement in Formula 1.
With the IndyCar season reduced to two races, and Formula 1 competition firmly in the hands of Max Verstappen and Red Bull, it’s a good time to check out how McLaren’s chaos in the racing world is progressing.
Palou’s situation looks as cloudy as it did when Chip Ganassi Racing originally insisted its potentially outgoing driver was contractually obligated to stay with the team for one more season (until 2023).
The parties are currently attempting to mediate, but if no agreement is reached, the dispute will head to the US Federal Court, which seems unlikely to make a decision in time for next season, leaving Palou on the sidelines. limbo.
Team boss Chip Ganassi seems to be treating this more as a strictly business matter than a personal affront, and the most sensible resolution would seem to be a financial deal with McLaren, but that could set a precedent that Ganassi wants to avoid.
Also, McLaren may have less incentive than in July to make the Palou deal a reality. While they would still love to have the 25-year-old IndyCar champion from 2021 drive for them in the American series, the signing of René Rast to their Formula E team could convince them that keeping Felix Rosenqvist in the Indy seat and simply walking away . of controversy could have its appeal.
Rosenqvist has been delivering consistently strong results this season, and McLaren’s growing need to focus on preparing for its 2023 Formula 1 season makes the IndyCar situation a lower priority.
If McLaren disappears as a viable option for Palou due to the legal situation or the team’s own wishes, the question is what exactly his options are for 2023.
While the stated purpose of Ganassi’s lawsuit is to force the Spanish driver back into the team, the reality of bringing Palou back after his attempted defection and subsequent legal battle might not be what Chip sees as an optimal situation. .
Ganassi has two other drivers, Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson, entering this weekend’s penultimate race of the season at Portland, currently third-fourth in the championship and within striking distance of leader Will Power, meaning if Palou is not in the long-term plans for the team, evaluating another young driver could be a priority.
If Ganassi finds another driver for the No. 10 car, that doesn’t mean he will necessarily drop the lawsuit related to Palou’s contract. He will have to consider how the prophetic Palou’s exit attempt feels, as well as his own attitude toward coming out of it as the best dog in the fight.
The ongoing legal action would almost certainly keep Palou out of IndyCar until it is decided, and Ganassi may well try to involve the FIA to prevent the driver from participating in further international competition.
If Palou manages to find himself free and clear of both McLaren and Ganassi, his F1 aspirations could lead him to one of the available seats at the back of the grid, or to consider a reserve role with a stronger team in 2023 with a eye in the following year.
Compared to its IndyCar situation, McLaren’s Formula 1 prospects for next year look pretty straightforward. With details of Daniel Ricciardo’s departure from the team successfully resolved, and Friday’s decision by F1’s Contract Renewal Board that newcomer Oscar Piastri’s prized contract with McLaren is valid, Piastri can now leave Alpine. at the end of this season and be on the McLaren grid in 2023 alongside Lando Norris.
Rumors abound of Pierre Gasly being released from his Alpha Tauri contract to join Esteban Ocon in an all-French driver pairing for Alpine, ending the Piastri saga, while at the same time adding more questions to the bottom third of the grid . .
The newest name to enter the discussion is IndyCar star Colton Herta, who is being considered to take Gasly’s previous job, although he would first require the FIA to grant Herta the required super license to compete in F1, a decision they are currently considering.
This would give the Andretti driver a chance to get used to the series before possibly rejoining the team if they manage to achieve their goal of becoming the 11th team in the series.
And who could replace Herta in IndyCar? Well, that Palou kid might be looking for a job, if someone could convince Chip Ganassi to let him out of his legal limbo.