Tuesday’s Alex Palou tug-of war between Chip Ganassi Racing and McLaren has some serious implications for the NTT Indycar Series. Zak Brown has a lot of money to throw around, and McLaren has a lot of cars in several series. The organization is in Indycar, F1, Formula E as of next season, and Extreme E.
Five drivers in the Indycar paddock- Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi, Pato O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist, and let’s assume Palou- have contracts of some sort with Mclaren. All are in the top 11 in the standings. Only O’Ward, Herta, and Rossi are guaranteed to be in Indycar in 2023. Herta will likely still be with Andretti Autosport. He recently completed his first F1 test with McLaren with more to come. Rosenqvist and Palou are aligned with McLaren, not necessarily the Indycar team. Arrow McLaren SP has plans for a third full time car in Indycar next season but has not named a driver.
Rosenqvist appears headed to Formula E, but we don’t know where Palou will be should McLaren prevail.
My concern is that McLaren is taking several of Indycar’s best drivers and stockpiling a driver pool to assign to their various racing ventures. Will they stop when all their seats are filled, or are they looking for some reserves as well?
The good news is that Indycar talent runs deep, and McLaren can’t get everyone, but what effect will this have on the series? Team owners may have to start offering better salaries to keep the top drivers, and perhaps offer them rides in other series they wish to try. Will the higher price for drivers cause smaller teams to fold?
I have become a big fan of Alex Palou, and I would hate to see him leave the series after just three years. he has the potential to be a huge star and win several Indycar titles and the Indianapolis 500. I would hate to see Indycar become a series where drivers win and one year and leave the next.