Palou turned his back on joining McLaren for the 2024 IndyCar season in a surprising twist.

The 26-year-old was involved in a contract struggle between Ganassi and McLaren in 2022, when Palou signed a contract with the Working-based team.

Ganassi ultimately filed a lawsuit against Palou, which ultimately led him to remain the team for this season, while being able to drive McLaren’s F1 cars and act as their reserve driver.

Palou got opportunities to drive for McLaren at the Hungaroring very recently, while he drove in FP1 at last year’s United States Grand Prix.

It’s a kick in the teeth for Zak Brown, who can probably empathise more with Alpine who lost Oscar Piastri to McLaren last year following a contract tug-of-war.

In a letter sent to McLaren employees, Brown wrote: “This is incredibly disappointing, considering the commitment he has made to us both directly and publicly and our significant investment in him based on that commitment. 

“Time, money and resources preparing to welcome Alex into our team because we believed in him and were looking forward to IndyCar wins with him.”

It seems likely Palou will remain in IndyCar and sign a longer, multi-year deal with Ganassi.

However, by cutting ties with McLaren, he does leave himself open to F1 opportunities elsewhere.

Clearly, with Piastri and Lando Norris, McLaren have their F1 driver line-up sorted for the next three to four years - there’s no chance for Palou.

What options could he have in F1?


The obvious choice is AlphaTauri given the uncertainty around their driver line-up.

Daniel Ricciardo made a surprise return in place of Nyck de Vries at the Hungarian Grand Prix, with the Australian openly eyeing up Sergio Perez’s seat for 2025.

Ricciardo doesn’t fit the AlphaTauri profile but given that they have limited options outside of Liam Lawson, his return was ultimately logical.

Yuki Tsunoda seems favoured by Helmut Marko and the Red Bull management, however, he’s yet to prove he’s worthy of a Red Bull drive.

Red Bull have shown by the signing of de Vries that they are prepared to go outside of their own driver academy if needed.

With potentially two IndyCar titles to his name, Palou has the credentials while being a more experienced option age-wise.


All signs are pointing towards Nico Hulkenberg remaining with Haas for another season.

The German has been magnificent in qualifying, leading the team to some impressive highs.

On the other hand, Kevin Magnussen has struggled, and Miami aside, he's generally been underwhelming.

The Dane is out of contract at the end of the year, with Haas in no rush to hand him a new deal.

Haas don’t have too many options, particularly as team boss Guenther Steiner isn’t keen on rookie drivers after two years of Mick Schumacher.

Palou, while he’d officially be a rookie in F1, has a wealth of top single-seater experience, combined with his age at 26, isn’t a traditional ‘rookie’ either.

While he is not an American, it would be great PR for Haas to sign the best driver from IndyCar.


Palou’s final option would be Williams.

Williams enjoyed a surprise upwards trajectory in 2023 with Alex Albon spear-heading their revival.

The signing of James Vowles as team principal has been a major coup, but they still need a better-performing second driver.

Similar to Nicholas Latifi, Logan Sargeant continues to underperform and shows no real sign of improvement.

He has shown flashes of pace - Bahrain and Azerbaijan spring to mind - but the gap to Albon is too vast.

Schumacher is in the frame to return to F1 with Williams in 2024 - which may make this a more unlikely option for Palou.