Alex Palou “has no intention of honoring his contract” with Arrow McLaren according to Zak Brown

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The future of INDYCAR’s championship leader is still unclear, in spite of the fact that only four races are left in the 2023 season. After the dramatic 2022 summer chronicles, everyone believed that Alex Palou would wear papaya in 2024 in INDYCAR if he didn’t get a shot in Formula 1, but now the possibility of a Ganassi renewal is gaining more and more credibility.

2022 had been a turbulent season for Palou as well in terms of his future, with Ganassi officialising the contract renewal of 2021 INDYCAR Champion for the upcoming season and the Spanish driver denying the extension and announcing a move to Arrow McLaren to have roles in both INDYCAR and Formula 1.

The winner of three races in a row in 2023 has a contract that apparently featured a clause which didn’t allow him to start contract talks with other teams before September 1st, 2023.

Ultimately, an agreement was reached between the three parties, with Palou set to compete in INDYCAR with Ganassi and to become a Reseve Driver for McLaren in Formula 1. In order to prepare for his new role, McLaren provided the championship leader with a number of tests on their machinery, the latest taking place at the Hungaroring in June. He also ran during an official session in FP1 for the team at COTA last year.

Photo credit: Penske Entertainment | Amber Pietz

However, a new chapter of the drama unfolded last night, when Associated Press got hold of a copy of a letter sent by Arrow McLaren’s boss Zak Brown to team members stating that Palou has “no intention of honoring his contract,” in spite of the young driver’s previous assent and the salary advance already received by him.

“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,” added Brown.

McLaren’s CEO also recalled the legal expenses covered by his team during the querelle with Ganassi last summer as another sign of the team’s strong effort and support towards Palou:

“We dedicated a lot of time, money and resources preparing to welcome Alex into our team because we believed in him and were looking forward to IndyCar wins with him. Coming out of his team dispute last fall, we were assured by Alex of his commitment to Arrow McLaren reflected in the contract he entered into with us.”

“Unfortunately, it now appears our belief, commitment, investment and trust in Alex was misplaced as it is not being reciprocated,” Brown’s letter concluded.

Palou could have had an out of his contract with Brown’s team had he signed with another Formula 1 outlet before July 1st, which, as confirmed by the driver to the press in earlier occasions, hasn’t happened.

Monaco Increase Management, the firm which aided the Ganassi driver in trying to get out of his contract last year, issued a statement expressing their displeasure in learning about Palou’s intention of breaking his agreement with McLaren:

“Monaco Increase Management is bitterly disappointed to learn about Alex Palou’s decision to break an existing agreement with McLaren for 2024 and beyond.”

“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.”

The firm added that they had last heard from Palou on Wednesday, but the Spanish driver hadn’t mentioned any change of heart, and that they “support McLaren”.

According to Indystar, Palou will be managed again by former racing car driver Roger Yasukawa, who had first brought the Spaniard in INDYCAR scoring him his first ride in the series with Dale Coyne and then his first deal with Chip Ganassi, with the American-Japanese confirming he was again in charge of Palou’s management “in full capacity”.

The Spanish driver is yet to speak personally to the press on this topic, with him previously stating that he will discuss his future to the press in September, after the end of the championship.

On Saturday afternoon, Chip Ganassi responded with a statement clearly aimed at Zak Brown’s leadership of the McLaren organisation, stating Palou is very much a CGR driver.

“Anyone that knows me knows that I don’t make a habit of commenting about contract situations. 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.”