Major update in Alex Palou-McLaren saga as legal battle rolls on

Jamie Woodhouse
McLaren reserve Alex Palou watches on at the Miami Grand Prix.

Alex Palou will not be a McLaren driver in 2024.

Alex Palou has accepted via court documents that he breached his contractual terms with McLaren as he seeks to reduce the damages.

After McLaren and Chip Ganassi Racing settled a dispute over Palou’s services for 2023, Palou sparked a fresh battle by announcing that he had no intention of honouring his McLaren deal, which was set to see him switch to their IndyCar team for 2024.

That back out also included his McLaren Formula 1 duties, having served as their reserve driver.

Alex Palou attempting to mitigate $23 million McLaren claim

McLaren took legal action against Palou, seeking damages to the tune of $23m in lost revenue, with the Associated Press now reporting key details from Palou’s response to the lawsuit, submitted in the High Court of Justice Business and Property Courts of England and Wales Commercial Court.

Crucially, Palou accepted that he “renounced his contractual obligations” with McLaren, claiming he “lost trust and confidence that [McLaren] genuinely intended to support his ambition to race in the Formula One Series”.

Palou’s response focused on breaking down that eye-watering fee which McLaren are pushing for.

Future sponsorships, F1 development and reserve duty costs, expenses of replacing him, plus a $400,000 advance on his 2024 salary reportedly forms McLaren’s lawsuit.

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A particular segment of the claim has been labelled “embarrassing” in Palou’s response, McLaren apparently citing $7m in lost IndyCar revenue and prize money, Palou’s documents pointing out that “driver performance is variable” and so the results of a season yet to be contested cannot be accurately predicted.

Palou won the 2023 IndyCar title with Chip Ganassi Racing, his second with the team after his inaugural triumph in 2021.

Following his move to renege on his McLaren deal, Palou put pen to paper on a contract extension with Chip Ganassi through to 2026.

McLaren meanwhile has two reserve drivers in place for the F1 2024 campaign, their current IndyCar racer Pato O’Ward, who contested FP1 for the team in Abu Dhabi, while also signing Toyota endurance racer Ryō Hirakawa as an F1 2024 reserve.

After securing a P4 finish in the 2023 Constructors’ Championship, Lando Norris scoring seven podium finishes and Oscar Piastri two, McLaren is out to take another step forward in performance for F1 2024 after a remarkable surge up the order over the 2023 campaign.

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