IndyCar Champ Alex Palou Ditches F1 Hopes With McLaren, Stays With Ganassi
McLaren is upset, Palou’s former management is upset, but he and Ganassi aren’t upset. They are too busy winning another IndyCar championship.
It appears McLaren can't stay away from contractual fiascos. If you remember the Oscar Piastri debacle in Formula 1, then you'll also likely remember that a similar situation played out with IndyCar champion Alex Palou right around that time. Now, more than a year after the social media showdown between Chip Ganassi Racing and McLaren, it's been announced the Spanish racer will ultimately renege on his contract with McLaren and stay with Ganassi for 2024. Unsurprisingly, the decision has stirred up emotions and even led to Palou's management company dropping him as a client.
“I’m extremely disappointed that Alex Palou does not intend to honor his contractual obligations to race with us in IndyCar in 2024 and beyond," said McLaren boss Zak Brown in a statement. “This is incredibly disappointing considering the commitment he has made to us both directly and publicly and our significant investment in him based on that commitment."
Back in July 2022, Ganassi took to social media to announce its contract extension with the now IndyCar champion. Not long after, McLaren also announced Palou as its driver, triggering a tsunami of drama. There were four parties involved: Palou, his promoter Monaco Increase Management, Ganassi, and McLaren. The four of them got their lawyers involved and eventually decided Palou would stay at Ganassi for the 2023 season but would also be allowed to join McLaren's F1 team as a test driver of sorts.
Everyone went on their merry way, at least publically, while Monaco Increase Management and team lawyers worked in the background to figure out Palou's 2024 plans. According to Brown, McLaren's own plans involved plucking him out of IndyCar at the end of the current season and fully embedding him as an F1 test driver. However, the announcement issued Saturday ahead of the race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway confirmed that Ganassi would retain Palou for 2024. Palou confirmed said announcement, and even team owner Chip Ganassi had a few words to say about this saga.
“Anyone that knows me knows that I don’t make a habit of commenting about contract situations,” Ganassi said in a statement. “Subsequently, I have been quiet since day one of this story but now I feel I must respond. I grew up respecting the McLaren Team and their success. The new management does not get my same respect."
“Alex Palou has been a part of our team and under contract since the 2021 season. It is the interference of that contract from McLaren that began this process and, ironically, they are now playing the victim. Simply stated, the position of McLaren IndyCar regarding our driver is inaccurate and wrong; he remains under contract with CGR," Ganassi added.
Monaco Increase Management issued its own statement shortly after, claiming to drop Palou as its client and wishing him "all the best for his future achievements.”
“Monaco Increase Management is bitterly disappointed to learn about Alex Palou’s decision to break an existing agreement with McLaren for 2024 and beyond,” the firm said. “Together, we had built a relationship that we thought went beyond any contractual obligation and culminated in winning the 2021 IndyCar crown and tracing a path to F1 opportunities. Life goes on and we wish Alex all the best for his future achievements.”
Despite a disappointing result by Palou in Saturday's race where he was involved in a multi-car crash, the Spaniard still holds a strong lead in the IndyCar championship. Should the remaining races go according to plan, Palou will likely become a two-time champion come September.
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