Formula 1 Racing

Is this really a driver who needs a change of team? · RaceFans

Is this really a driver who needs a change of team? · RaceFans

Given the manner of Alex Palou’s victory on Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with a perfectly prepared car and masterful strategy from his Chip Ganassi Racing crew, one would never have imagined driver and team were so fiercely at odds with each other less than a year ago.

Let alone embroiled in a civil lawsuit together throughout their 2022 summer of discontent.

“We’re not going to stop here,” 2021 champion Palou said after his crushing victory in last weekend’s Indianapolis Grand Prix. “We’re going to try and keep the championship lead until the end of the championship, and hopefully get the second one.

“It just fills everybody with energy, all the crew, all the engineers, myself – for the big race.”

Palou won by almost 17 seconds on Saturday, thwarting the challenge of super sophomore Christian Lundgaard while keeping the McLaren fleet of Pato O’Ward, Alexander Rossi and Felix Rosenqvist well out of reach. Leading 52 out of 85 laps, it was still only his second most impressive win of the last eight months.

Palou came from third to win on Saturday

He ended 2022 with an even more striking victory at Laguna Seca Raceway – he led 67 out of 95 laps and won by an astronomical 30.3 seconds, a record for the current IndyCar series throughout its 27-year history. It was his first win since his championship triumph the year before, during which he claimed a trio of victories and came within half a second of winning the Indianapolis 500 – all in his first season as a Ganassi driver.

But Ganassi’s hopes of extending Palou’s stay at the team suffered a blow in July last year after they announced his one-year contract extension. Palou publicly denied his team’s announcement on social media, and McLaren claimed they had bagged the Ganassi driver’s service for 2023.

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Chip Ganassi Racing never backed down from its claim that Palou was their man for 2023, even as the extraordinary situation unfolded of the team bringing a lawsuit against its active driver. Social media buzzed with claims Palou would be fired from the team – rumours that turned out to be nonsense. Nonetheless the feeling persisted that Palou would be shown the door the minute the 2022 IndyCar season ended.

But in the post-race celebrations after his win at Laguna Seca, it seemed Palou and Chip Ganassi had settled their differences. That view was justified when, three days later, Ganassi and Palou reached an agreement…

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