McLaren accused of ‘playing the victim’ in scathing statement as Alex Palou saga continues

Henry Valantine
The McLaren Racing logo. Barcelona, February 2022.

McLaren F1 Team signage.

Chip Ganassi has accused McLaren of assuming an “inaccurate and wrong” position surrounding the future of IndyCar star Alex Palou, insisting he remains under contract with his team.

Palou sent a shockwave through the IndyCar scene late on Friday night, as well as rumour mills hotting up that he could be priming for a move to Formula 1, when it was revealed by the Associated Press that the 2021 IndyCar champion would not be moving to the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team for 2024 as previously planned.

Spanish driver Palou, who is already signed up as McLaren’s official reserve driver for Formula 1 and has conducted tests in previous cars for the team, is now widely reported to have reneged on that agreement, and Ganassi, who currently employs the 26-year-old at his eponymous Chip Ganassi Racing team, has responded to the latest development.

Chip Ganassi calls out McLaren management over Alex Palou saga

The report from the AP contained a message from McLaren CEO Zak Brown, who said he was “incredibly disappointed” to learn that Palou has “no intention” of honouring the agreement the two parties had in place for the 2024 season.

PlanetF1.com understands that Palou opted to break the agreement without support from his management, prompting a split between him and his agents over this development.

And because of the “interference” of McLaren in prising Palou away from Ganassi in the first place, the team owner himself took a dim view of what has gone on and addressed Palou’s current status.

Ganassi wrote in a statement: “Anyone that knows me knows 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.

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“Alex Palou has been a part of our team and under contract since the 2021 season. It is the interference of 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.”

Palou is currently the runaway leader in the points standings in this season’s IndyCar championship, and has been on the radar for Formula 1 teams in the past, with this latest move having prompted rumours that he may be in talks to join the F1 grid or extend his stay with Ganassi in IndyCar.

Read next: Why IndyCar Champion Alex Palou would do ‘very well’ in Formula 1