What a wild summer it’s been for racing silly season. The only team that’s involved in the NTT INDYCAR Series, Formula 1 as well as Formula E beginning in 2023, has certainly stirred the pot. It’s a confusing stretch of occurrences so lets build a timeline of how this all transpired. To do so, you have to go back to February.
- Feb. 9, 2022: Lando Norris signs a new long-term deal with McLaren.
- March 12, 2022: McLaren announces F1 testing plans, Herta on it, O’Ward not.
- March 16, 2022: O’Ward is upset he was passed over for F1 test
- May 2022: It’s believed this is when Alex Palou and Ganassi started their different paths. Palou was wanting a restructured deal. Ganassi couldn’t get it done so by all accounts, it led Palou to McLaren to discuss a deal for 2023.
- May 1, 2022: O’Ward wins Barber and says he and AMSP talking about contract has helped improve results.
- May 27, 2022: Pato O’Ward signs new deal to keep him with Arrow McLaren SP through 2025.
- June 3, 2022: Alexander Rossi announces a new deal to have him drive for AMSP for 2023
- June 23, 2022: Rosenqvist signs a deal to remain with McLaren but it wouldn’t necessary be for INDYCAR, could be for Formula E. Zak Brown says that he wants an experienced driver in their Formula E seat and Rosenqvist could fill that void.
- July 4, 2022: According multiple reports, Oscar Piastri agreed to a deal with McLaren on the F1 side a day after the British Grand Prix. It came out in the CRB ruling. This deal was to make him either a reserve driver for McLaren in 2023 or elevate him to replace Daniel Ricciardo if his performance doesn’t improve.
- July 10-11: Herta tests F1 car for McLaren, reports come out on July 12 that it went really well
- July 12, 2022: Chip Ganassi Racing announces that they have exercised Palou’s 2023 option.
- July 12, 2022: A few hours later, Palou takes to his social media and says that he didn’t sign a new contract with Ganassi and that they fabricated a quote for the release and that he doesn’t intend to come back in 2023. Instead, he has signed a deal with McLaren.
- July 13, 2022: Daniel Ricciardo put out a video on his social media channels that he’s exercising his option to stay with McLaren in his F1 ride for 2023. We didn’t know about the Piastri signing at this point so this move by Ricciardo was in wake of the Palou announcement.
- July 25, 2022: Ganassi files a lawsuit against Palou
- July 28, 2022: Palou talks and says he still thinks he’ll be a McLaren driver for 2022, his peers question his character
- July 28, 2022: Sebastian Vettel announces his retirement at seasons end
- Aug. 1, 2022: Aston Martin signs Fernando Alonso as Vettel’s replacement with the team
- Aug. 2, 2022: Alpine announces they’ll move Piastri up to an F1 seat to replace Alonso.
- Aug. 2, 2022: Like the Palou situation, hours later Piastri says he won’t be moving up to Alpine’s open seat.
- Aug. 5, 2022: Rosenqvist admits he wants to stay in INDYCAR but future dependent on court case involving Palou
- Aug. 23, 2022: Rene Rast signs with McLaren on Formula E side, could this save Rosenqvist’s job?
- Aug. 24, 2022: Ricciardo announces that he and McLaren have mutually decided to split at seasons end paving a path for Piastri or Palou.
- Sept. 2, 2022: Piastri confirmed to move to McLaren on Formula 1 side
That’s a lot that has transpired over the course of the last few months. My takeaway? McLaren has offered their 2nd F1 seat to multiple drivers before it was even open. If Piastri agreed upon a deal on July 4, it’s not like that was the 1st day that the two sides spoke. They had to have been talking prior.
Which means Ricciardo was a lame duck no matter what. They were already seeking his replacement. While Ricciardo acknowledges that he had no prior knowledge that Piastri and McLaren were talking, I almost wonder if he did get word and decided to make that video on July 13 to up his buyout price.
However, the 4th of July date is key because they agreed with Piastri before they agreed with Palou. That’s significant because even if Ricciardo was to return in ’23 and Piastri was only going to be a reserve driver, that deal was only like for 1 year. He was going to be in the 2nd McLaren F1 ride in 2024. Which means Palou never was going to be a Formula 1 driver.
In turn, it means the main path was for McLaren to have Norris and Piastri in F1, O’Ward, Rossi and Palou in INDYCAR and Rast and Rosenqvist in Formula E.