Formula 2 Alumni: Álex Palou

Formula 2 Alumni: Álex Palou

Formula 2 Alumni: Álex Palou

When mentioning Álex Palou, the first thing that comes to mind is his stellar IndyCar career. What might be lesser known, however, is that he competed in Formula 2 in 2017, and whilst he only made 4 starts, he showed the grid a taste of what talents he held.

It was in Jerez where Palou made his debut, and immediately left a lasting impression, qualifying 11th and within a second of the pole time – out qualifying his teammate in the process. The feature race saw him move up 3 places to P8, securing pole for the following day’s sprint race and securing 4 points. But it was in this sprint race where Palou really made his mark, leading for the majority of the race before falling back to P8 on worn tyres to claim yet another point – taking his career total to 5 points.

Abu Dhabi was a more quiet affair, mostly staying in the midpack and not scoring points – but Palou still managed to hold his own against teammate Lando Norris, finishing ahead of him in all sessions. It was this consistency which made teams take note of Palou, but unfortunately it was not enough for Palou to secure a 2018 Formula 2 seat, instead going to race in the Formula 3 European Championship.

For 2019, Palou raced in Japan, and was one of the championship contenders for the prestigious SuperFormula title – ultimately falling short due to car issues at the final round. But this, alongside his impressive Formula 2 stint, was enough to open up a new avenue for Palou, and one that would escalate his career to new heights: IndyCar.

Starting off with Dale Coyne Racing in 2020, Palou made a stunning first impression – claiming a podium in only his third Indycar start. And whilst this was his only podium finish of the year, Palou made other impressive achievements across the year, qualifying 7th for the Indy500 – part of the motorsports triple crown and Indycar’s most known event – and claiming the fastest lap at the 2nd Gateway Oval event.

These 2020 achievements were enough to convince front-running team Chip Ganassi Racing to sign Palou for 2021 – and this move instantly paid off, with Palou winning on his first start for the team. 2 further wins and 5 additional podiums were enough to secure Palou the Astor Cup (Indycar championship) – becoming the first Spaniard to claim the title in Indycar history.

For 2022, Palou only managed 5th in the title – but still managed a victory in the season closing Laguna Seca event. Palou found his season slightly marred by a contract dispute between Chip Ganassi Racing and Arrow Mclaren – with CGR eventually retaining Palou for 2023 onward – but it did not stop his on-track progress, remaining consistently at the front of the field for the majority of the season.

2023 for Palou can only be described with one word: dominance. And though the start of the season started out fairly evenly paced, it was the Month of May which kickstarted Palou’s run to the title – a dominant win on the Indy Road Course, followed by Pole for the Indy500, and then victory in the next 3 events post Indy – by the halfway point of the season, Palou had built up a 110 point title lead. And whilst only 1 more victory followed, Palou remained consistent, recording top 8 finishes at every remaining round. In fact, he claimed the Indycar title with a round to spare, for the first time since 2007.

Away from Indycar, Álex Palou is the co-founder of Palou Motorsports, a team competing in Eurocup-3 aiming to “nurture aspiring drivers in the nascent stages of their careers.” (Palou Motorsports Website). Additionally, Palou has tested Formula One machinery for Mclaren, participating in the 2022 US Grand Prix First Practice session alongside various private tests – though it is unknown if he will continue this for 2024.

Palou’s Formula 2 career was quite short lived, and often forgotten, but the impact of his talent is far from forgotten amongst the motorsports community, bringing a new wave of talent to America to revolutionise Indycar as we know it. And this surely won’t be the last title for Palou, with the amount of talent and promise that he still continues to show, first showcased to the Formula 2 world back in 2017.

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Formula 2 Alumni: Álex Palou

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