Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe
IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis

Palou surprised IndyCar rivals didn’t use his winning tyre strategy in Indy GP

Grand Prix of Indianapolis winner Alex Palou said he knew he was in “a good place” when he elected to start on the softer compound while those around him chose primaries.

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Palou started third in his Chip Ganassi Racing entry but was into the lead before the end of the first lap, having taken advantage of the extra grip from the red-sidewalled Firestones.

He went on to lead 52 of the 85 laps, and was able to outpace polesitter Christian Lundgaard of Rahal Letterman Lanigan and then the Arrow McLaren of Pato O’Ward to score his fifth IndyCar victory, and his first of the season.

“We knew starting on the alternates we needed to go hard and try and get the lead as fast as possible,” said the 2021 champion. “I think the alternates had two, three laps that they were a lot better. Afterwards, you kind of got stuck behind.

“I tried [to pass Lundgaard] in Turn 1. He went really aggressive. It was right, it was perfect what he did, but yeah, I wanted it to be something easier! We were able to get it on the last corner. That was good.”

In this three-stop race, Palou’s tyre sequence was fresh alternates, new primaries, used primaries, new primaries. He said the choice for ending in that manner was to ensure he had good grip in the event of a late caution period.

Asked if it surprised him that others hadn’t done the same, he responded, “It did, it did. For us it was clear.

“We were struggling a little bit more than some of the guys on used reds in the warm-up [session]. But still it's not like they were amazing. We knew that we didn't want to use used reds. That's why we started on new alternates, try to get the lead, try to get a big gap, like two, three, four, seconds, then work on our pace on blacks. Once I saw the starting grid with the tyres, we were like, ‘OK, we're in a good place.’

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Christian Lundgaard, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda Jack Harvey, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Christian Lundgaard, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda Jack Harvey, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Photo by: Brett Farmer / Motorsport Images

“Still, you have to do it. If you get stuck behind Lundgaard on reds, you're done, your race is over, because you'll have more tyre deg, not get the benefit of jumping four seconds, then you're always stuck in traffic on the same strategy as his… We knew that since practice, honestly, that's why we wanted to start on reds. I was surprised that not other people at the front started on reds.”

In the closing laps, as his main pursuer O’Ward faded on the reds, Palou stretched his advantage to over 15 seconds. On the subject of where his advantage lay, Palou said: “We had more speed on sector two, Turns 7-8-9-10 on the blacks. On the reds, I was still struggling compared to them. We were still good there. We made one tenth and a half to two tenths. Then we were really close in the other areas.

“It's normally like that. It's tough to do a big difference in Turn 1. Everybody brakes at the same spot. Being such a slow-speed corner, everybody does the same driving lane. Turns 7-8-9 was the biggest difference.”

Palou has now moved into the championship lead, six points ahead of O’Ward and 19 ahead of his own Ganassi team-mate Marcus Ericsson.

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Hamilton interested in “old-school” IndyCar test
Next article Wickens wants to be first disabled Indy 500 racer next year

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe