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“Who needs Formula 1?” Introducing IndyCar and its first-ever Spanish world champion
Monday, October 4, 2021 @ 3:41 PM

MOTORSPORT 'pioneer' Álex Palou started out training and competing with the likes of Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen, but at the career crossroads, he swerved off down a different path – that's why you've probably never heard of him.

You have now. Here he is winning in Alabama in 2020

But Palou, 24, has just made history by becoming the first-ever Spaniard to win the IndyCar world championship title.

Now, the Barcelona-born whizz on wheels wants to be a trailblazer for his sport, raising its profile on home territory.

His results this season have been so solid that in the last race of 2021, at Long Beach, all he had to do was turn up – no need to even reach the podium, and his fourth-place finish was plenty enough to confirm his milestone achievement and immortalise his name.

Not that fame features anywhere on Álex Palou's list of priorities – despite the fact that he is constantly asked whether he plans to break into the crème of the motor-racing world, Formula 1.

“If Chip Ganassi were to switch to Formula 1, I'd dive in head-first,” Álex admits.

“But otherwise, there isn't a single Formula 1 team where I'd be able to win, and what I enjoy most is winning.

“I'm not bothered about appearing in glossy magazines; winning is where I get my kicks.”


IndyCar, mostly alien to Spain

Spain's presence in IndyCar has not been huge over the different generations of household names in the sport – until Álex came along, the most successful Spaniard to date was Oriol Servià, and his is really the only name ever associated with the country in this discipline, other than twice-world champion Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso, whose dip into IndyCar has been more of an extra-curricular hobby and a means to an end: Trying to win the Indianapolis 500 so that, along with his victories in the Le Mans 24-Hour and the Monaco Grand Prix, he can become only the second driver in history to earn the so-called motorsport 'Triple Crown', after the UK's Graham Hill.


What is IndyCar, anyway?

Given that this branch of motorsport has not been high-profile in Spain until Álex's championship, you could be forgiven for wondering what it actually is – and having heard the name of it bandied around your entire life, feel a little embarrassed to ask anyone.

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