Zak Brown has confirmed that McLaren have begun legal proceedings against Alex Palou after the Spaniard reportedly reneged on a contract agreement.
Palou had been due to make the switch to the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team in 2024 having already been part of a contract battle between the Woking outfit and Chip Ganassi heading into 2023.
But Brown announced over the summer break that Palou had decided not to take up McLaren’s offer with the future of the IndyCar championship leader still undecided.
Zak Brown: McLaren have opened court proceedings against Alex Palou
McLaren have become well versed in contract legal disputes of late with them winning a battle against Alpine over Oscar Piastri last year.
The shoe is on the other foot this time though with Brown claiming they had a binding contract with Palou which he has chosen to not go through with.
“Alex informed us that he has no intention of honouring his contract with us in IndyCar or Formula 1,” Brown told media including PlanetF1.com in Zandvoort. “We have a contract so now in the legal process. We filed in London courts last week against him both as a person and his business entity. We’ll just let the legal proceedings carry the situation forward.”
As well as the question of Palou’s future, another question is who will take part in the FIA-mandated FP1 rookie sessions with Palou down as a reserve driver for this season.
The regulations state a driver who has competed in no more than two grands prix must take part in two FP1 sessions per team, meaning Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta are the likely candidates.
“We have a few reserve drivers,” Brown said of their situation. “Obviously last year, we ran Pato O’Ward and Alex so working with Andrea [Stella] to decide.
“It’ll be towards the end of the year so we have some time to decide who we’re going to put in the car for our free practice one and a young driver test. So for the time being it’s business as usual.
“Colton and Pato don’t have their superlicence at the moment and with the way the current system works, their chances of getting a superlicence are unfortunately going backwards because of the way the system works and where they are right now currently in IndyCar.
“Pato is someone that will be in the car later in the year and has done a great job for us so Pato is certainly someone that’s a focus.”
As for Palou, Brown wondered if he would ever make it to Formula 1 now that he has declined the McLaren opportunity.
“Alex is obviously a very talented driver, one we’ve had in our car a handful [of times]. I think whether it’s Alex or any other driver, to be a Formula 1 driver, you need to clearly have the pace.
“But you also have to have the mental ability if you’d like. I think in Formula 1, there’s so much you have to do as a driver to be a complete race car driver.
“So he certainly has demonstrated in IndyCar and his time with us that he is a racing driver, but I’m not sure we’ll ever find out [if he could drive in F1].”