McLaren are suing Alex Palou for nearly $23 million, that’s the amount they claim they lost after he reneged on a contract to join them next season.
For the second time in two years Palou has found himself in the middle of a contract saga, but like last year’s that involved Chip Ganassi Racing and McLaren, this one is heading to court.
Last year McLaren announced they’d signed Palou for the 2023 season only for CGR to state he was still their driver for one more season, 2023.
McLaren seeking nearly $23 million in damages
That was resolved behind closed doors with Palou staying on with his IndyCar team while also taking up McLaren reserve driver duties in F1. Added that he was set to swap to McLaren in 2024, only now he won’t be.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown told the media including PlanetF1.com back in August that Palou had “informed us that he has no intention of honouring his contract with us in IndyCar or Formula 1.”
He went onto confirm that McLaren would be taking legal action in the British courts, filing against Palou as a person as well as his business entity.
McLaren made it clear they weren’t seeking to force the driver to race for them, rather they wanted to recoup financial losses.
That, according to AP News, is to the tune of “nearly $23 million”.
Viewing the 17-page document that was filed on September 29th in the High Court of Justice Business and Property Courts of England and Wales Commercial Court, the news source claims that the ‘nearly $23 million in damages McLaren is seeking is broken down in future sponsorship tied to Palou joining McLaren, the costs of using him as a reserve F1 driver, how much McLaren spent developing Palou for F1 and a $400,000 advance on his 2024 salary.
McLaren are ‘not seeking repayment of legal fees it says it covered for Palou in last year’s fight with Ganassi.’
That nearly $23 million includes roughly $15.5 million for ‘lost revenue under official partner agreements with sponsors that anticipated Palou would be the driver’ with the team claiming they also ‘lost some $3.5 million expected from third parties surrounding Palou’s participation in its testing program’.
It’s already turning into a case of he said, they said, with Palou’s legal teams reportedly claiming the Spaniard had been promised a full-time seat in F1. And that because McLaren could only give him a reserve driver role that “a complete severing of the relationship (was) in order.”
McLaren claim this is incorrect and that Palou signed two contracts. One with McLaren Racing to be the team’s reserve drive and another with Arrow McLaren to compete in the IndyCar series in 2024.
As for Palou, the 2023 IndyCar champion hasn’t stated exactly why he opted not to join McLaren but has hinted that the wait for a race seat played a role in his decision.
“If you look at my interviews until 2021, I would say I was not focused on F1 at all, and that was totally true,” he said last month. “But things changed when I won the championship.
“I was 24. I had just won my first big championship and what if I try something and it goes sideways, then I can come back when I’m 27 and still super young and can still do it for 10 or 15 years.
“The door opened a little bit with McLaren. It was amazing. The opportunity was great, but there was nothing else there of, ‘You will have a car.’
“Maybe if I was 20, I would have waited, but I’m not 20. I’m 26. I don’t know of anyone who waited until 30 that got into Formula One.”