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The Roar


Huge shake-up at Team Arrow McLaren for the rest of the IndyCar season: Pourchaire in, Malukas out

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10th May, 2024

Lando Norris’s win at the Miami Grand Prix was a triumphant moment for McLaren fans around the world, but it’s not the only news out of America this week.

On Thursday, Arrow McLaren officially announced Théo Pourchaire as the new main driver of their No. 6 car for the 2024 IndyCar season.

Pourchaire replaces David Malukas, who got injured and then fired before he could even sit in the car.

It’s another wild turn in what’s shaping up to be a very strange season, so let’s go over how we got here and what the two men’s paths will look like going forward.

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With seven wins at the Indy Lights level to his name, Malukas moved up to IndyCar in 2022, driving the No. 18 for Dale Coyne Racing.

After two seasons and three top-five finishes, including podiums in both his runnings at the Gateway 500, Malukas signed a multi-year contract with Arrow McLaren, taking over the No. 6 car from the outgoing Felix Rosenqvist.


It was supposed to be the young American’s big chance to drive for a contender, but a month before the season started, Malukas broke his wrist in a mountain biking accident.

F1 fans might be reminded of Stroll, who had a similar accident before the start of the 2023 season, but there’s a key difference here.

Unlike F1 cars, Indy cars don’t have power steering, so where Stroll was able to share the load with his Aston Martin and compete for the entire season, Malukas would have to stay on the sidelines.

For the start of the 2024 IndyCar Series, McLaren hired Callum Ilott, a British three-year IndyCar veteran who’d just taken second place in his World Endurance Championship debut at Lusail, to take Malukas’s place.

Ilott did okay, earning a retroactive 11th in St. Petersburg and reaching 9th place in his heat at Thermal, but could stay no longer, as the Grand Prix of Long Beach fell on the same week as the WEC’s 6 Hours of Imola.

With Ilott heading back to his real job, McLaren turned their gaze to Japan, where Théo Pourchaire was competing as the lone foreigner in the Super Formula Championship.

While his debut there had gone badly, he was still the latest F2 champion, and crucially, he would be available for both of IndyCar’s April events.


Despite never sitting in an Indy car until that race weekend, Pourchaire was one of the big standouts in Long Beach, where he placed highest among rookies and finished 11 places higher than he started, the biggest gain of any driver that day.

His follow-up in Alabama would go much worse, but after teammate Pato O’Ward hit him on the final lap, O’Ward took a one-place penalty to move the young Frenchman up to 22nd, the best finish of any McLaren that day.

Unfortunately for Malukas, his absence also triggered a clause in his contract stating that if he missed four races in a season, McLaren could release him at any time.

In a controversial and cutthroat move, McLaren dropped Malukas the day after the race, citing uncertainties with his recovery timeline.

This paved the way for Pourchaire to officially take up the mantle ten days later, bringing us to the current state of affairs.

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There’s a fair chance we’ll see Malukas again once he’s fully healed. Barring any other drivers getting hurt, the most likely spot is in IndyCar’s current revolving door, the Dale Coyne No. 51.

By the time the Indy 500 wraps up, Colin Braun, Nolan Siegel, Luca Ghiotto, and Katherine Legge will all have taken turns driving it, and that list is only going to get longer afterwards.

Given Malukas’s success at Gateway in particular, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him appear as one of those mercenaries towards the end of the season and try to show his stuff in hopes of proving McLaren wrong and landing another seat elsewhere for 2025.

As for Pourchaire, we’ll see him again at the Indianapolis Grand Prix this weekend.

However, before he officially exits Super Formula, he’ll have to race for Impul one more time at Autopolis, meaning someone else will have to take his place at the Indianapolis 500.

This could mean one last appearance from Callum Ilott – the 500 is safely tucked between Spa and Le Mans on the WEC calendar, and he had a strong showing at last year’s running – but as of this writing, McLaren has yet to name their driver.


After that, Pourchaire will pilot the McLaren No. 6 for the rest of the season. Currently, he sits fourth in the Rookie of the Year race, with Linus Lundqvist comfortably leading after a breakout bronze in Birmingham.

If Lundqvist or any of the other rookies seize on the smorgasbord of bonus points available at the 500, it could throw a wrench in Pourchaire’s chase for the award.

That said, Pourchaire has already collected more championship points than multiple drivers who’ve run more races than him, and at this stage of the season, it only takes one good performance to get ahead of the pack.

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There’ll be more eyes on Pourchaire than ever this weekend at the Indianapolis Grand Prix, where he’ll take his first drive as a full-blooded McLaren man.

Will he put in another strong performance and vindicate the team’s faith – or will the spectre of Malukas haunt the Orange Arrows from here on out?