Palou has been on McLaren's radar for quite some time. The contract dispute between McLaren and Chip Ganassi Racing during the season this past year was one of the biggest stories in all of motorsports. The reigning IndyCar champion at the time disputed reports that he would be returning to CGR in 2023, and heading to McLaren instead.

With that legal situation getting resolved, Palou walked back his comments and was ready to finish the job with Ganassi. He and the team finished this season on a high note, winning the season-finale at Laguna Seca in dominating fashion. Palou led 67 of the 95 laps and won by more than 30 seconds. He will return to the No. 10 Ganassi machine next year, but then will be heading to the McLaren stable.

What that looks like is still uncertain. He could possibly take over the No. 6 Arrow McLaren SP ride currently occupied by Felix Rosenqvist. The IndyCar team is not likely to expand to four full-time cars, as they have added a third for next year with 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi. There is a slim chance that Palou could expand his Formula 1 role into a full-time seat in 2024.

Palou tested the MCL35M at Barcelona and the Red Bull Ring as part of his role in McLaren's driver development program. He will serve as their reserve driver on race weekends that don't interfere with his IndyCar commitments. There are 12 such occasions on the 2023 calendar, so he could be in the paddock for about half of the Formula 1 season.

"I'm excited to be part of the McLaren team as one of their reserve drivers in 2023," said the 25-year-old Spaniard. I've been behind the wheel of both the MCL35M and MCL36 and it has been a great experience, so I can't wait for the involvement with next year's car. I look forward to continuing my development as a driver and I appreciate the trust McLaren have in me with this new role next year."

McLaren will have Lando Norris and rookie Oscar Piastri (2021 Formula 2 champion) as their Formula 1 line-up next season. The Australian is replacing Daniel Ricciardo, who is returning to Red Bull as the championship team’s reserve driver.

While the lure of a potential seat in Formula 1 is enticing, it is difficult to imagine a scenario where Palou is in the frame in the next couple of years. The most likely result will be the 2021 IndyCar champion moving to the Arrow McLaren SP team for the 2024 season.