Brown: Palou’s decision to not honour his contract doesn’t have “anything to do with McLaren”

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McLaren Racing CEO, Zak Brown has confirmed that the team is now in the process of carrying out legal action against IndyCar championship leader Alex Palou for failing to honour his contractual obligations with the squad for the rest of 2023 in Formula 1 and going forward in IndyCar, and believes the surprising move from the Spanish driver has nothing to do with McLaren.

Photo Credit: McLaren Racing

Alex Palou’s contractual saga in between IndyCar and Formula 1 teams has taken another twist recently after he informed McLaren he had “no intention” of honouring his commitments with the historic British brand going forward.

The team’s CEO Zak Brown confirmed that the team has filed a lawsuit against Palou for his failure to honour his part of the deal, coming from both the IndyCar side at Arrow McLaren, and from the F1 team in which he was supposed to make free practice outings for later this season, after the IndyCar championship has finished.

Speaking to selected media outlets at Zandvoort ahead of the F1 Dutch Grand Prix, Brown reinstated that the team will “let the legal proceedings” take care of the situation going forward:

“Alex [Palou] informed us that he has no intention of honouring his contract with us in IndyCar or Formula 1. We have a contract. It’s now in a legal process. We filed in London courts last week against him both as a person and as a business entity.

“We’ll just let the legal proceedings carry the situation forward.”

The American admitted he is “very disappointed” with how Palou handled the situation on a “personal level”, revealing the IndyCar champion didn’t even tell him personally of his intentions before making it clear for all involved parties:

“[It’s] very disappointing. We had a very good relationship. He hasn’t personally communicated with me about it, which is rather disappointing. Given all that we had done for him and the opportunities that we provided, I don’t think his decision has anything to do with McLaren per se.

“Our relationship was very strong, so very disappointed on how it’s been handled on a personal level. I think our relationships with our drivers is something that McLaren take very seriously. We do a good job of creating a family environment for our drivers, so to be let down, especially in that manner, is pretty disappointing.”

One of the many complications McLaren will have to face due to not having Palou in its roster going forward is the knock-on effect that it will have in its plans for the two mandated F1 rookie FP1 outings that a team has to serve during the season.

Palou ran for the Woking squad in first practice for the 2022 United States GP, and was expected to get another outing this season, but that is now out of the window, according to Brown. He expects a decision will be made later in the season with regards to FP1 outings and the post-season Abu Dhabi test, reiterating that in the short-term it’s “business as usual”:

“We have a few reserve drivers,” he said. “Obviously last year we ran Pato [O’Ward] and Alex, [and] we’re working with Andrea [Stella] to decide [on that].

“It will be towards the end of the year, so we have some time to decide who we’re gonna put in the car for our free practice one and our young driver tests. For the time being, it’s business as usual.”