Palou speaks out on McLaren contract row after Zak Brown makes feelings clear

IndyCar champion Alex Palou has opened up on his ongoing contract row with McLaren after CEO Zak Brown blasted the Spaniard for being an expected no-show at the F1 Singapore Grand Prix this weekend despite obligations as the team’s reserve driver. It isn’t the first contract dispute that the 26-year-old racing driver has found himself in; first getting into bother last summer when it was announced that he had signed a deal to race for McLaren in 2023 only for his IndyCar team, Chip Ganassi Racing, to push back insisting he already had a deal with them.

It was then settled that Palou would continue with CGR for the 2023 IndyCar season before moving on to McLaren a year later than expected. But according to McLaren’s CEO Brown, Palou has now decided against joining McLaren.

The 2021 and 2023 IndyCar champion wants to stay at CGR instead, which has infuriated Brown and McLaren, who are taking legal action against Palou over money already paid to him for the 2024 season. Palou will also not be in Singapore and was expected to be at every race as McLaren’s reserve driver following the conclusion of the IndyCar campaign.

“He’s still our reserve driver,” Brown said, before adding: “I don’t think he’s going to show up in Singapore, which he’s obligated to. But we have had a couple of different reserve drivers during the year. So we’re now going to have to extend that.”

Palou confirmed that he will not be in the F1 paddock this weekend to The Race. He said: “Yeah. First of all, it’s because I can’t, just because of the championship [win] and we’re going to LA now [for prize giving] and then we have some testing for the ’24 car [Chip Ganassi Racing car]. Yeah, the plan’s changed. I’m not going to go to any F1 races.”

Palou and Brown are yet to discuss the issue. When asked to confirm what Brown had said about not hearing a single word from the Spaniard, Palou added: “Yeah, honestly, that’s true, we’ve not spoken. I don’t think I have anything that it’s going to benefit him or me to say at the moment. I don’t have any issues with him. Like if I see him, I’m not going to look to another side, or walk to the other side. But yeah, at the moment I don’t think that we have something to talk about.”

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McLaren is yet to confirm who will be its reserve driver for the remainder of the 2023 season. IndyCar driver Pato O’Ward will get a practice session at some point between now and November’s finale in Abu Dhabi.

However, O’Ward can’t be McLaren’s reserve driver as he does not have his superlicence. Mexican O’Ward, 24, is expected to attend the races in Mexico, Austin, Las Vegas, and Abu Dhabi.

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