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Palou leaving Ganassi for McLaren in 2023, denounces CGR press release

Defending IndyCar champion Alex Palou will depart the Chip Ganassi Racing team at season’s end to join Arrow McLaren SP, directly contravening CGR's press release stating he was staying on.

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Grid

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Grid

Brett Farmer / Motorsport Images

It was announced on Tuesday that Ganassi had taken up his option on its 2021 IndyCar champion to retain him through the end of the 2023 season.

The release included a quote from Ganassi, who has seen his drivers score 14 championships since 1996, and also supposedly from Palou – a fact that the Spaniard rejects completely.

Palou took to Twitter to say: “I have recently learned from the media that this afternoon, without my approval, Chip Ganassi Racing issued a press release announcing that I would be driving with CGR in 2023. 

“Even more surprising was that CGR’s release included a  'quote'  which did not come from me.

“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.

“This evening’s unfortunate events aside, I have great respect for the CGR team, and look forward to finishing this season strongly together.”

Moments later McLaren F1’s twitter account stated: “¡Hola Alex! McLaren Racing welcomes ‪#INDYCAR champion ‪@AlexPalou to its driver roster from 2023, as the team continues to build talent across all of its racing series.

“Our full driver line-up across all racing series will be confirmed in due course.”

The Arrow McLaren SP twitter account quoted that tweet, adding “Welcome to the McLaren Racing family, Alex Palou.”

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

A McLaren Racing press release stated: "Alongside his racing duties next year, Palou will also test with the McLaren F1 Team as part of its 2021 MCL35M F1 car testing program with fellow drivers Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta."

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

"I want to thank everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing for everything they have done for me.”

Zak Brown, McLaren CEO commented: “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.

“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) program 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.”

Although McLaren is not specific in stating which series Palou would race in, it seems likely that for 2023 he will remain in IndyCar alongside current Arrow McLaren SP racer Pato O’Ward and new signing Alexander Rossi, AMSP having stated its intention long ago that it would be expanding its full-season line-up to three cars.

This would likely see Felix Rosenqvist, who McLaren Racing confirmed as remaining in its ‘family’ two weeks ago, moving across to McLaren’s new Formula E team.

Thus McLaren Racing would have three viable options for replacing the struggling Daniel Ricciardo at the conclusion of his contract with the F1 team in 2023 – O’Ward, Palou and Herta, who has just finished a two-day test with the McLaren F1 squad.

Palou, in his second year with Ganassi, currently lies fourth in the IndyCar points table, just 35 behind championship-leading teammate Marcus Ericsson.

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