Monaco Increase driver Alex Palou managed eight place finish in the opening round of the 2023 Indycar season at St.Petersburg, despite his #10 American Legion CGR car suffering a sudden performance drop in the very last stages of a long and grueling race. The 1.8 miles (2.9 Km), 14-turn course generated an eventful, accident-marred event in which the most important thing to do was bringing the car home-and gaining points.
In qualifying on Saturday, Palou had easily made the cut into the Top 12, but barely missed the threshold to advance into the fastest six. His best lap time of 59sec 7781 granted him seventh place on ghe grid though and Alex felt that the car was really strong for the race.
At the start of the 100 lap event, Palou tried a bold move on the inside to gain two positions, just moments before the race war red-flagged following a multiple car accident at the back of the grid. The race restarted behind the safety car and the green flag was given on lap 6 with Palou trailing team-mate Ericsson. The race saw very little action in the first quarter and Palou didn’t use any of the available 150 seconds of ‘push to pass’. A Herta’s pace suddenly dropped, both Ericsson and Palou passed him easily. Alex was then running fourth with a ten-seconds gap to leader Romain Grosjean but then his soft compound tires began to suffer, too, and he served his first pit-stop on lap 31, rejoining the track in P16. A yellow flag caution period ensued with the MIM driver already running in P9 but right after the restart, another horrific accident occurred with Kirkwood, Harvey and Rinus Veekay involved. The rescue vehicles were called on track leaving a narrow gap for the racing drivers to pass through. The race re-started with Palou in P11 but that didn’t last long as both Rahal and Herta hit trouble, allowing Alex to climb back to ninth but causing yet another caution period. Once again, Palou worked his way through the pack with an acrobatic passing move on Callum Ilott, before entering the pit road on lap 66 for another set of ‘Prime’ tires. The move allowed Palou’s #10 car to undercut Lundgaard with 31 laps to go, recording a fastest lap in the process. Ahead of Palou, Grosjean and McLaughlin ended up in the barriers when battling for the lead. With 25 laps remaining, Alex was running fourth at the end of the final round of pit-calls. He didn’t have the best re-start though as he went wide in Turn 1 losing a couple of places. Right at the end Palou’s pace dropped, but he held on with what was left to take 8th place and cash his first 24 points of the new season.