Surprise twist in IndyCar’s contract saga


Alex Palou’s contract kerfuffle with two headbutting IndyCar teams has had another element of complexity added to the mix.

The Spaniard’s well-documented tryst with Chip Ganassi Racing and McLaren remains unresolved with both teams laying claim to last year’s champion.

As it stands, McLaren has three full-time IndyCar entries set to contest next year’s championship. 

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Felix Rosenqvist claimed his long-awaited first IndyCar Series podium finish with McLaren in Toronto. (Supplied)

Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi have been confirmed to contest the North American single-seater series in 2023, but the third seat has a question mark above it.

Earlier this year, McLaren incumbent Felix Rosenqvist was re-signed with the provision to keep him in IndyCar or move him across to the team’s new Formula E outfit.

Palou’s signing came with the paddock expectation that he’ll fill that third IndyCar seat at the Indianapolis-based outfit and result in Rosenqvist moving to Formula E, although the team’s statement did not confirm as much.

Now, fresh off the back of his first IndyCar podium with the team in Toronto, Rosenqvist has suggested McLaren CEO Zak Brown should reconsider sending him to Europe.

“I think this weekend hopefully makes Zak doubt some things,” he said with a wry smile.

“It’s still a long way to go in the year, but it’s, as I said, every race just keep getting better and better.

“This is the trajectory we want to be on and I’m so excited for the rest of the season.”

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Those comments were followed by an unprompted vote of support from rival racer Graham Rahal who said Rosenqvist deserves to stay on the IndyCar grid.

“First off, Felix has to prove nothing to anybody,” said Rahal, who drives for the team his father co-owns, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

“The guy is an exceptional talent. He belongs in IndyCar racing. I hope he finds a spot. I know if we had room at the end I’d be pushing for him.”

When asked to elaborate in the post-pace press conference on his comments – particularly whether there was scope to switch teams – Rosenqvist affirmed his desire to stay in North America.

“That’s entirely a question for Zak,” said the Swede.

“I’ve made my point that I’m very happy with the team. I think it shows, a super group. I think we worked hard the last two years to kind of build up a very strong team. 

“We have good strategy, good pit stops. I think I’m able to extract most out of the car most weekends now.”

It’s been a turn of form for Rosenqivst this year. After two turbulent seasons with Chip Ganassi Racing across 2019 and 2020, he joined McLaren in 2021

His first campaign was forgettable, recording just two top 10 finishes in a season that saw him sidelined for two races with concussion-like symptoms following a monster crash.

Alex Palou finds himself in the middle of a contract spat between his current team Chip Ganassi Racing and McLaren (Supplied)

This year he finished fourth in the Indianapolis 500 and has been a top 10 finisher on five occasions from 10 races to date, including his most recent podium in Toronto.

“I think if you asked me end of last year, obviously it would have been a different answer,” Rosenqvist added.

“But right now I’m just very happy where I’m at. I think I would be crazy if I said I wanted to go somewhere else.

“I want to be where I’m at right now. I think Arrow McLaren SP has pretty much become a home for me. 

“Yeah, it’s up to Zak. He’s the man who is making the moves. Probably going to take a couple weeks before we know more. 

“Hopefully today changed something. My ambition is to keep proving it that way.”

Rosenqvist continues his IndyCar campaign with the double-header at Iowa Speedway on July 24-25 (AEST).

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