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IndyCar champ Alex Palou adamant he’ll be part of ‘McLaren family next year’

IndyCar champ Alex Palou adamant he'll be part of 'McLaren family next year'

INDIANAPOLIS — IndyCar champion Alex Palou, who has contracts signed with two different race teams for 2023 and is being sued by Chip Ganassi Racing, declared Thursday: “I will be in the McLaren family next year.”

The soap opera over Palou’s future continued with more twists and turns than the Spaniard will face Saturday in the road course race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Ganassi this week filed a lawsuit in Marion County Superior Court in Indianapolis that names as defendants both Palou and ALPA Racing, which is listed as Palou’s “racing entity.”

At issue is the contract Ganassi holds with the 25-year-old driver. The team owner says he picked up his exclusive option on Palou to bring him back next year for a third season; Palou says he informed CGR he’s leaving and signed a contract with McLaren Racing.

McLaren boss Zak Brown has not decided if he will use Palou in a third IndyCar seat or in Formula One, but Palou for the first time since the saga began July 12 firmly stated he will be wearing McLaren’s papaya orange next season.

“We are disappointed that Chip Ganassi Racing would attempt to keep Alex from an opportunity to compete in Formula One, and even more so with CGR’s public court filings and continued commentary to the press on this matter,” Palou’s attorney, Rachel Epstein of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, said Thursday. “We would hope the parties can resolve this amicably, but if not, we look forward to resolving this matter in a private arbitration, as CGR has requested.”

Epstein is the first to acknowledge that a shot in F1 is a primary reason for Palou wanting to leave Ganassi. Palou has not divulged much about his reasoning to jump from the No. 10 car after only two seasons.

He has never driven or tested an F1 car before but does hold the super license required by governing body FIA to compete in the world’s top motorsports series. Asked if it was McLaren’s ability to get him into F1, a salary dispute or something else that was luring him away from Ganassi, Palou declined to say. But does he want to drive an F1 car?

“Everybody wants to,” he said.

How does he make that happen?

“I’m not a lawyer; I’m a racing driver,” Palou said, shrugging.

The entire paddock is watching the Palou situation play out as drivers are unsure if Ganassi’s No. 10 car will be open.

The situation emerged too late for rookie Callum Ilott, who began talks in April with Juncos Hollinger Racing on a contract extension that was formally announced Thursday. The…

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