There are races which made history in motorsports and the 2023 Indycar Detroit Grand Prix surely belongs to these races. In a sensational weekend for Monaco Increase Management, Alex Palou won his second event this year (the sixth since racing in the American series) and extended his lead in the series to a 51 points margin over CGR team-mate Marcus Ericsson. And he did so in a dominant way, starting from pole position and leading all the way through despite several re-starts after as many full-course yellow flag periods. Thus MIM currently has two drivers (Palou himself and Pascal Wehrlein, who also won this weekend in Indonesia’s Formula E round) in the lead of an international racing championship… Someone in Detroit joked that Palou had been very confident of the No.10 Ridgeline car potential ahead of the race, to the point of practicing donuts in the runoff areas during the warm-up session! But actually, the ‘new’ layout of the GP track (in reality a comeback to the old street course) posed a serious challenge to any driver and Alex himself criticized its narrowness. The twisty 1.645 long circuit (2.64 Km) features a total of nine corners and the longest straight section for this type of tracks. This means that when the green flag comes out after every race interruption, where all cars re-group, the driver in the lead can be slipstreamed by the cars behind and must fight hard to maintain position under braking for the first left-hander.
Despite all this, Palou tried to pull away at the start of the 100-lap race (that had been delayed by a couple of laps) and actually managed to build up a 9 seconds margin before his option (softer compound) tires started to give away, allowing Will Power to close in on him. With the second set of rubber, Alex Palou quickly regained the lead, but on lap 44 Pato O’Ward came out of the pit road with a loose wheel and shortly after crashed into the wall. At the green flag on Lap 55, though, Palou could not resist Power’s attack on softer tires, but soon caught up and on Lap 55 passed the Australian driver and was again in command. Another round of pit-stops came eleven laps later but the last stages of the races became quite chaotic, with several cars hitting the wall (Grosjean being the first) and causing other safety car interventions. The big drama came with ten laps to go when Power made a move coming round Palou at Turn 1 and the Spaniard seemed to lose it for a moment. But then Power himself was hit in the back by Dixon’s car and lost time in the process, allowing Palou to pull away enough to secure another brilliant win.
When the MIM driver parked his car he looked as fresh and relaxed as he had just come out of a spa treatment. “The No.10 Ridgeline car was absolutely fantastic today” said Palou “and the team did a super job despite those tires struggling to get temperatures at the restart”. On one of those occasions, Palou admitted to something going wrong: “Yeah, we had a small issue that probably was my fault and could not accelerate properly, but we got it back and scored another win this year”. Yet even a 51-points margin after seven races is not enough for Palou to feel satisfied: “It’s not done yet, so we keep focusing on the next two races and keep pushing”. Asked whether this result comes as a compensation after his Indy 500 frustration (when he got hit by another driver in the pit road) Palou cooly replied: “You know, I wasn’t really frustrated. We know how difficult it is to win but we also know that we have one of the fastest car, if not the fastest overall”. And with all the support from Monaco Increase Management, 26-years-old Palou is all set to take on the summer races, starting with the Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America in two weeks’ time.