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The prospects for Alex Palou in F1 are apparently diminishing. The 2023 IndyCar champion recently spoke to his future, and his comments suggest that it’s unlikely it will include a Formula One ride as he continues a legal battle against McLaren.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway front stretch
Indianapolis Motor Speedway | iStock

Palou’s off-track headlines were about as consistent as his on-track accomplishments during his incredibly dominant 2023 title-winning season in IndyCar. The 26-year-old earned five wins and finished no worse than eighth throughout IndyCar’s 17-race season.

However, Palou’s season supremacy was somewhat overshadowed by his legal entanglement with both Chip Ganassi Racing and McLaren Racing. Palou is now at the center of a multi-million-dollar lawsuit lodged against him by McLaren.

McLaren revealed in 2022 it signed Palou to a contract to drive for the team’s IndyCar program in 2023 and that he would join its F1 test program. This came after Chip Ganassi announced it has exercised its option on Palou to return to the team for 2023. Palou tweeted he “did not intend to continue with [Chip Ganassi].”

The issue was settled by mediation. Palou would remain with Ganassi and could pilot McLaren F1 cars in testing or practice sessions. He did so ahead of the 2022 U.S. Grand Prix. Later in 2022, Palou signed a contract to formally join McLaren in 2024, while continuing to complete F1 tests, with the driver allegedly receiving a $400,000 signing bonus.

Again, the deal fell apart. Ganassi announced it signed Palou to a multi-year contract, and McLaren then filed a breach of contract against the driver. Palou’s lawyers argued his contract was effectively void as McLaren had represented the driver would serve as a full-time pilot for McLaren’s F1 team instead of as a reserve driver. McLaren protested this point. McLaren then filed a $23 million suit against the driver for costs associated with the driver reneging on his contract.

Palou spoke briefly about his F1 future potential at the recent IndyCar media days, reported by Autoweek. The two-time IndyCar champ effectively kept his team cards close to his chest, suggesting he doesn’t see himself in F1 without Ganassi.

Palou said he wanted to remain with Ganassi when asked about where he saw himself in five years.

“I already talked about (switching to F1),” Autoweek reported. “I tried. It didn’t really work out. That’s okay.”

Palou said if Ganassi were to break into F1, which seems unlikely given the struggles Andretti Cadillac are facing in entering the sport, he would follow the team. But only if the team wanted him to pilot a Formula One entry, he added.

Palou said he would continue to try and “get many championships as we can” in IndyCar with Ganassi in the meantime. He is seeking to defend his championship and earn his third title in four years in 2024.

Palou will pilot CGR’s No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R in the 24 Hours of Daytona Jan. 27. He joins fellow IndyCar champions Sebastien Bourdais and Scott Dixon, along with Renger van der Zande, for the 2024 iteration of the endurance race.

Additional sources: [IndyCar], [], [NBC Sports]