Severiano Ballesteros, Angel Nieto, Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz (dad), Carolina Marin, Manolo santana, Federico Martín-Bahamontes, Fernando Martin… and now Alex Palou. Spain has a new pioneer in its sports history books, something that has become a symbol of the national character and that almost transcends the country’s own idiosyncrasy in other areas.
The Spanish nation was already a country of conquerors in other areas. Colonizing was synonymous with seeing the Iberian ensign (even before it was red-equalized) in unknown lands for centuries, something that has been inherited in the DNA of the current discoverers: athletes are the current heroes and their victories are the feats that serve as argument to the elegies of the troubadours, today journalists.
Like those things like Palou’s, there are very few. He is not the first Spaniard to have competed in the IndyCar, since before him they were Oriol Servià (the most successful so far) or even his own Fernando Alonso, to which Indianapolis 500 they have choked on him for the moment in his quest for the Triple Crown. But he does have a very different way of approaching work.
He neither wants Formula 1 nor does he need it
Possibly due to the influence of the two-time Asturian champion, the question to Palou is obvious to the general public: do you want to compete in the Formula 1? His answer could not be more eloquent: “If it is Chip ganassi the one who goes to Formula 1, I go headfirst. But, there is no team in Formula 1 in which I can win and the most I enjoy is winning“, he pointed out, before settling the debate:” It doesn’t call me going out in the magazines, it calls me winning. “
Palou swerved as he came close to following his old karting rivals. Men like Max verstappen or Carlos Sainz They shared the asphalt with the recently proclaimed IndyCar champion, but thanks to the advice of Adrián Campos, their sports ‘father’ (like that of so many others, starting with Alonso himself), made a career away from F1.
Adrián did it again! And so much that he was right ✨
CONGRATULATIONS CHAMPION 👏🇪🇸 pic.twitter.com/qwbgCX1T19
– Campos Racing (@CamposRacing) September 26, 2021
The bet around Palou in the United States is not less. Talking about Ganassi is talking about an entire institution in IndyCar (and in motorsport in general), which has its own ecosystem and its own rules, totally unrelated to the Great Circus. It was he who called him to be part of his team, even contrary to logic (this has been his second season in America) and it is Ganassi who wants to make him the heir to a Scott wilson who was the first to deliver the champion scepter.
There was a time when Formula 1 drivers went to America to triumph there, men like Emerson Fittipaldi (who also won with Ganassi), Mario andretti or Nigel Mansell. Champions all of them who ended up triumphing also in the bumpy ovals and routes of the American contest. Why would Palou go the other way?
At 24 years old, and after having already tried in the Japanese Super Formula (another of those parallel universes of motorsport outside of F1), Palou has just started his path in Indy. Perhaps you will be able to hook the general public to a fascinating sport. As did Seve, or Nieto, or Alonso, or Santana, or Marín, or Bahamontes …
Spain has found a new idol to look at. The relevance of Palou’s title, in addition to itself, comes from the seed it can leave in the public. Didn’t golf licenses go up after the successes of Crossbowmen? Weren’t there more ‘sons’ of grandson in the circuits? Aren’t there more kids getting on a go kart after Alonso? Would there be a Nadal without that Wimbledon of Santana?
Palou is not only aware of what he has accomplished, but he accepts the challenge with pride. “For Spain it must be incredible and that more people know IndyCar and that next year they support us more, that it be like a ball that gets bigger,” he wished. Swap IndyCar for ‘trendy’ sport …