IndyCar’s Alex Palou and Felix Rosenqvist will stay with respective teams in 2023
Like a daily “Soap Opera” on TV, just when the viewer is ready for the climactic ending, the storyline moves in another direction.
That’s the best way to describe the off-track contract battles involving Spanish 2021 NTT IndyCar Series champion Alex Palou with Chip Ganassi Racing and the collateral damage that may have involved Sweden’s Felix Rosenqvist at Arrow McLaren SP.
There won’t be a jaw-dropping climax for this one as on September 14, both sides announced that their pilots would stay put. Palou, who won the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey on Sunday by 30.3812 seconds ahead of Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, will continue to ride the #10 Honda NTT DATA for Ganassi. Rosenqvist, who has enjoyed an impressive rebound season for Arrow McLaren SP, will return to the No.7 Chevrolet.
The only thing missing from this surprisingly quick announcement was Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” before it faded to black that left many viewers of “The Soprano’s” wondering how the series actually ended.
In this Soap Opera IndyCar, it was more like the series finale of “Seinfeld” – where a show about nothing had an ending that made no sense.
It was July 12 when Chip Ganassi Racing sent out a statement saying they were picking up Palou’s option year of 2023. There was a statement from Palou saying how happy he was to get back on the Honda n ° 10 NTT DATA for the 2023. IndyCar Series season.
A few hours later, Palou posted a Tweet indicating that he never said that quote and that he would not be returning to the IRGC for 2023.
Minutes after this Tweet, McLaren issued a statement saying the team had signed Palou as a driver for their team in a series of races “to be determined”.
It’s the same type of statement McLaren released on June 23 when it said Rosenqvist had signed a contract to stay with McLaren in 2023.
McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has hinted that Rosenqvist could lead the team’s recently formed Formula E program if he is not chosen to continue on Arrow McLaren SP’s IndyCar team.
Rosenqvist wanted to stay in IndyCar. He was stunned when Palou’s announcement was made.
But Ganassi was furious.
He knew Palou was still under contract with him in 2023 and sued the driver. Before court proceedings began in Hamilton County, Indiana this fall, Ganassi, McLaren and Palou agreed to a federal mediation process.
A considerable sum of money would have to be exchanged between McLaren and Ganassi if Palou were to be released by Ganassi.
There were times in the 2022 season of the IndyCar Series where this storyline overshadowed the dramatic battle for the season’s championship that was ultimately won by Team Penske’s Will Power for the second time in his career.
The reward for this one, however, is the sanctity of a contract. Ganassi had a contract with Palou and had the upper hand in any impending legal battle.
Many contracts have buyout clauses, but the amount Ganassi was willing to accept was far more than Brown and McLaren thought was reasonable.
Brown thought Palou was free and clear of his contract when they agreed to sign him on July 12, but that turned out to be untrue.
Brown met a very small, select group of reporters, including me, Sunday morning in his “Condor” RV at WeatherTech Raceway in Laguna Seca ahead of the 2022 IndyCar season finale.
The main takeaway from that conversation is that Brown was impressed with how Rosenqvist finished the season and thought he deserved to be in IndyCar next season. He also values Palou’s racing abilities immensely and may have him in line for an F1 opportunity one day, but wants to make him one of the team’s test drivers in its Test of Previous Cars program ( CPT).
“My ultimate ambition is for Alex to be a McLaren Racing driver, and we have the advantage of having a variety of teams,” Brown said. “Certainly he will have an opportunity that we can give him. The possibility of Formula 1, I think that’s what attracts him.
“It’s still a work in progress. What I would say is that I am very happy with Felix. He has done a great job this year. He’s been strong all year. We’ll see how it works. I would be very happy to have Felix in our car again. “We have to make a decision because I think he would be picked up by another team (IndyCar).”
Brown was asked how likely Palou’s situation is to be resolved within the next three weeks, Brown said, “hard to say. I would say the ball is in Chip’s court.
“We are waiting. I think they have to resolve the situation.
It all became official on Wednesday morning when McLaren released a statement that settled the short-term future of both drivers.
O’Ward remains with Arrow McLaren SP in a three-driver squad that includes talented Mexican driver Pato O’Ward and 100 winner Alexander Rossie Indianapolis 500 which comes from Andretti Autosport.
Palou will officially be one of McLaren’s Formula 1 test drivers while continuing in IndyCar with Chip Ganassi Racing.
Palou began its first Formula 1 TPC test on Wednesday.
Palou finished fifth in the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series standings. Rosenqvist finished eighth in the standings and an impressive fourth in the 106eIndianapolis 500 on May 29.
“I’m thrilled to have Felix racing with AMSP again through 2023,” Brown said. “He’s had a strong 2022 season, and I can’t wait to see what he, Alex Rossi and Pato O’Ward can do when they join forces in papaya (the colors of McLaren).”
Rosenqvist proved he deserved the honor by the way he handled a difficult situation when he seemed to be sidelined in favor of Palou.
“There’s no better way to enter the offseason than with this news,” Rosenqvist said. “I love this team and I’m so happy to continue working with all the amazing people I’ve come to know over the past two seasons. With everything the team has in the pipeline, the relationship continues with Pato and the addition of Alex Rossi, we are going to bring our A-game for 2023. It will be the most exciting season for me so far.
“Let it be March already.”
Palou reacted to the news on Twitter:
“I’m delighted to announce that @CGRTeams and I have reached an agreement, and I will be back in the #10 car next season. Expect a BIG 2023,” said Palou’s Tweet.
In Sunday’s winner’s interview in Monterey, Palou said he spoke with Ganassi on Sunday morning before the race. He said they had talked about 2023 and held out hope that a deal was near.
“Yeah, we’ll see when I find out,” Palou said. “I wish I could tell you guys, ‘Hey, I’m doing this’, but I don’t have an answer yet.
“Unfortunately, I have nothing to share. I think everything is going in the right direction. I don’t know if it will take a day, a week or a month, but I hope everything will be resolved soon.
“I don’t have anything clear to say, but everything is going in the right direction.”
This contract dispute of an owner suing a driver recalls a contract dispute in the National Football League in 1966 involving a head coach and one of his assistant coaches.
George Allen was the defensive coordinator for a Chicago Bears team that was the best in the NFL when it came to defense. With names like Bill George, Ed O’Bradovich, Larry Morris, Rosey Taylor and Richie Petitbon, the defense led the Bears to the NFL Championship in 1963.
The Bears beat the New York Giants 14-10 in 10-degree weather at Chicago’s Wrigley Field in a defensive struggle.
In 1965, the Bears added two of the greatest players in NFL history, including running back Gale Sayers and center linebacker Dick Butkus.
Allen coached Butkus, and the Bears nearly returned to the NFL championship that season, missing a game and a half against the Green Bay Packers, a team in the midst of a dynasty in the 1960s.
After serving as an assistant coach and then defensive coordinator since 1958, Allen agreed to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams.
Halas, the man who founded the NFL in Canton, Ohio in 1919, refused to let Allen go because he still had a contract to coach the Bears. Halas sued Allen, alleging breach of contract.
Halas won the case, then immediately let Allen go, stating that he had made his point about the sanctity of a contract and how it should be honored.
Allen would go on to become one of the finest head coaches of his day, saving two founding franchises with the Los Angeles Rams and later the Washington Redskins, a team that has since been renamed the Washington Commanders.
Devoted IndyCar fans won’t have to scramble to find “Court TV” on their cable or streaming lines, as this contract dispute has come to an end quickly. It was over in two months without having to go to court.
Palou can return to a championship vying team, the one that gave him the gear to win the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series championship. He can also achieve his dream of driving a Formula 1 car, even if it is in testing, but it could one day lead to a full-time race.
Rosenqvist can stay in the team he loves and has shown his potential to achieve even more success in 2023.
But there may be a new rivalry on the show from now on and it involves Chip Ganassi and Zak Brown.
Expect this feud to continue in the future.