Two F1 rivals eye IndyCar star for 2024 race seat amid contract confusion

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2021 IndyCar champion Alex Palou is an F1 reserve driver for McLaren (Image: McLaren Racing)
2021 IndyCar champion Alex Palou is an F1 reserve driver for McLaren (Image: McLaren Racing)

Two Formula 1 teams are said to be in conversation with Alex Palou's representatives regarding a potential 2024 race seat.

The Spaniard has raced in IndyCar since 2020 and joined current employer Chip Ganassi Racing in his sophomore campaign. He won the title that year, and is well-placed to repeat the trick this season, currently 80 points ahead of nearest rival Josef Newgarden.

Palou's achievements across the Atlantic have already caught attention from the F1 world. He is a reserve driver for McLaren and has already tested for the team, and appeared in the paddock at several Grand Prix weekends.

He is expected to sign for McLaren's IndyCar team for 2024, having failed to make that switch for this season. Unless, that is, he is offered an F1 race seat.

McLaren have no room in their driver line-up with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri contracted for the long-term. But there are apparently other interested parties in the paddock.

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According to The Race, conversations have taken place "at some level" between his representatives and AlphaTauri and Williams. Those are two of the four teams with possible vacancies for next year, though Haas and Alfa Romeo are said to not be interested in the 26-year-old.

Palou's IndyCar record means he qualifies for a superlicence – the stumbling block which prevented Colton Herta from joining AlphaTauri for this season. However, the Catalan racer's arrangement with McLaren could complicate things.

He is believed to have a clause in his reserve driver contract which meant he could take up a race seat with another team. However, the report claims that particular part of the deal may have expired.

That means McLaren would need to release him from that contract if he were to accept a drive elsewhere. And while his current employer has no room for Palou in F1, they may not be willing to let him back out of the plan to run him in IndyCar next season.

As for his reported suitors, it remains to be seen what their long-term plans are. Alex Albon is locked into a multi-deal and, although rookie Logan Sargeant has yet to score a point in F1, it is understood that Williams are committed to being patient with the American who was promoted a year earlier than planned.

At AlphaTauri, Daniel Ricciardo racing alongside Yuki Tsunoda after the signing of Nyck de Vries did not pay off. The Japanese racer has impressed so far this season and should be rewarded with a new deal, while the Aussie will hope for the same if he can shine in the second half of this season. Liam Lawson is next in line in the Red Bull young drivers pool and is performing well in Japan, racing in Super Formula.

Daniel Moxon

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