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Palou: No comment on contracts, no idea how it gets resolved

Reigning IndyCar champion Alex Palou insists he’s “super-happy, super-committed” to winning a second title with Ganassi, and admits he doesn’t know how CGR’s tug-of-love battle with McLaren over him will pan out.

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Richard Dole / Motorsport Images

On Tuesday this week, Chip Ganassi Racing put out a statement revealing it had taken up the option on Palou for 2023, the Spaniard having signed a two-year-plus-one-year-option with the squad after his rookie IndyCar season with Dale Coyne Racing in 2020.

Hours later, Palou hit social media to refute the statement that he’d be remaining at Ganassi for 2023, and minutes later McLaren Racing revealed it had signed the 25-year-old Spaniard for 2023.

Quizzed by media in Toronto for this weekend’s 10th round of 2022, Palou’s repeated message was, “I don’t intend to comment on my contract status,” and when asked why he’d even think of leaving a team with whom he won the 14th IndyCar drivers’ title in 25 years, he added, “I do not intend to comment on my intentions.”

He later said: “I understand that this is something you guys are super–interested in, completely understand, I would do the same if I was in your position, but I have nothing else to add to what I said. I’m not going to tell more about what I said already…”

Palou told the IndyStar, “I’m still super-happy where I am, we’re still super-committed to trying to win this championship as we’ve been since Race 1, and I’m happy with my team, my crew, my teammates, with everything. So nothing’s changed: not after money, not after anything in particular. Just this championship that we have to try and win.”

Asked how the situation will be resolved, Palou said, “Honestly? No idea! I mean, I’ve never been in this position so I have no idea.

“I know that Chip Ganassi, everyone that is around me and myself, we’re all professionals, we want the same thing, which is to win. That’s it. Period.”

However, when asked by the Star if he felt everything he had done in signing with McLaren was above board, Palou said “Yes, I have full trust in the people around me.”

While there were rumors that Tony Kanaan might step into the #10 car for the remainder of the season – a scenario that Kanaan told Motorsport.com was highly unlikely to occur – Palou said that to the best of his knowledge there had been no discussion about him being stood down by the Ganassi team. Given Chip Ganassi’s competitiveness, and the fact that the #10 is backed by series sponsor NTT Data, it was also improbable. After nine rounds of the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series, while he has gone winless so far, Palou sits fourth in the championship, a mere 35 points outside the lead currently held by teammate Marcus Ericsson.

Palou said that he had talked to Ganassi since the Tuesday social media conflict and that both had remained “professional”. He said, too, that he and the #10 crew are resolved to winning a second straight title together. Asked by NBC if he can still focus on his job, he responded, “Oh 100 percent, of course, yeah, why not?

“Obviously it’s not ideal, especially for my crew that is around me. But for myself it’s all right. I’m a warrior, this is not going to stop me. If people think that this is going to affect me on track or something, then they don’t know who I am.

“It’s all good, it’s all good with the crew as well, everybody’s supporting us. We have a target for this season which is to get that #10 NTT Data Honda car in victory lane.”

He went on, “Personally, myself, I don’t think it’s going to affect me at all. Obviously I have cameras today, I have more questions to answer that make it a bit more difficult than normal. But at the end of the day I’m a driver, that’s the only thing I know how to do, and this is not going to affect me at all negatively when it comes to performance – maybe even the opposite because all eyes are on me and as soon as I’m out on track, everybody’s going to look for that #10.

“So me personally it’s not going to affect, and the team, the organization itself, I don’t think it’s going to affect at all. My crew? I don’t know, but I’m trying to support them as much as possible because honestly they have nothing to do with this… We’re in this together… We’ll make it work.”

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