Alex Palou is hitting the track this week for the first time in 2021, joining his new IndyCar team-mates at Chip Ganassi Racing for a private test session at Sebring International Raceway.
The young Spanish driver will be looking to learn tips and tricks from each of his tenured colleagues as he settles in to his new team and refines his skills behind the wheel.
With Jimmie Johnson joining the team following on from a legendary NASCAR career, Marcus Ericsson having an F1 background, and Scott Dixon recently claiming an incredible sixth IndyCar championship last season, Palou will be spoiled for choice when it comes to getting valuable information on the track.
“[My team-mates] all work differently, but I think it’s really good to be able to get all the different mindsets,” said Palou looking ahead to the test session.
“We have the IndyCar mindset with Scott, we have the NASCAR mindset with Jimmie, we have the Formula 1 mindset with Marcus, and we have my mindset, which is trying to learn from everybody and trying to be at the same level as they are. It’s really good for the team.”
Palou joined IndyCar last season after spending a year running the Japanese Super GT series, and was a rookie during last year’s chaotic, pandemic-affected schedule.
Despite the shifting schedule and lack of practice time, the 23-year-old had a solid season driving for Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh, earning three top-10 finishes and a podium on his way to second in the Rookie of the Year standings.
His reliable performance landed him a spot on Chip Ganassi Racing’s powerhouse team for this season, and he will be paying close attention to Dixon in particular in an effort to up his own game.
“You know that he has the same tools as you and the same car,” said Palou of the six-time IndyCar champ.
“You don’t know what other teams are doing, but you know what Scott is doing. He’s the target, and if I see he’s able to brake 10 meters deeper into a corner with the same car as me, I need to watch how he’s doing it to be able to do the same thing he does.
“That’s why being with Scott is so important and so beneficial for me.
“I want to test all the time with him to compare data with him because it’s not the same when you have Scott and when Scott is not there.
“He’s the man. He’s the champ. You always want to be with him and listening. If he talks about tea: ‘What do you think about this tea? Or the coffee?’
“Whatever, you always want to be there, because you don’t know when he’s going to say something that you didn’t know, and that’s most of the time when the talks about cars.”
This week’s test at Sebring will be Palou’s third with Chip Ganassi, following test sessions at Barber Motorsports Park and Laguna Seca late last year.
Now that he’s already familiar with the team and the car, he aims to use this test to get to work and improve his form.
“There’s no specific result I want to accomplish,” continued Palou. “I just want to get used to the car again, test a couple of ideas we have for this preseason, and hopefully it’s going to help us during the street courses and road courses.
“I’ve had two months since the last test, and that time gave me the opportunity to embrace everything I’ve learned and put everything together at the test.”