McLaren are suing Alex Palou for £18.2million ($23m) in damages after the two-time IndyCar champion abandoned his contract with the team to sign a renewed deal with Chip Ganassi Racing.
According to the Associated Press, the Spanish driver admitted to a breach of contract in a 20-page legal document that was sent to the High Court. In this dossier, Palou said that he “lost trust and confidence that (McLaren) genuinely intended to support his ambition to race in the Formula One Series and decided to continue racing with CGR in the Indy Car Series instead.”
The documents also stated that the 26-year-old “therefore admits that he renounced his contractual obligations” and that “the real issue between the parties is as to the quantum of any damages which the Defendants are liable to pay”.
McLaren’s desired damages will cover sponsorship losses, the cost of developing him as a test and reserve driver, as well as a £316,000 ($400,000) advance on his salary for the 2024 IndyCar season.
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Palou had signed a contract with McLaren that would see him step up his test and reserve driver role with the team in 2023, completing private tests and FP1 sessions in order to bolster his chances of making the leap onto the F1 grid in the future.
However, with seats at Williams and AlphaTauri coming and going and neither Lando Norris nor Oscar Piastri likely to depart the Woking-based team any time soon, it became increasingly clear that Palou’s hopes were thinning.
At the same time, the 26-year-old became a two-time IndyCar champion, flexing his muscles as he sealed the title with a round to spare. Palou won an unprecedented five races as he beat legendary team-mate Scott Dixon to the championship.
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Part of Palou’s McLaren commitment dictated that the Spaniard was to make the move across to the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team for 2024, which would have broken the long-standing partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing that produced both of his championship triumphs.
Arrow McLaren, on the other hand, failed to win a race all season with Pato O’Ward, Alexander Rossi and Felix Rosenqvist struggling to provide a regular challenge to the Chip Ganassi and Team Penske entries.
Palou therefore opted not to honour his contract with McLaren, signing a three-year extension with Chip Ganassi. Zak Brown’s organisation were therefore forced to poach David Malukas from Dale Coyne Racing following an impressive sophomore year in the series after announcing that Rosenqvist would depart.
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