NTT IndyCar Series driver Alex Palou has admitted he breached his contract with McLaren as he attempts to mitigate the damages being claimed against him.
–by Mark Cipolloni–
Some might call it cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face, but that might be exactly what Alex Palou did when he reneged on his McLaren contract to remain with Chip Ganassi Racing.
Palou was to be a Reserve Driver for the McLaren F1 team as his dream was to be an F1 driver. He has now burnt that bridge and no F1 team will ever hire him for fear he will do the same thing he did to McLaren, to them.
As a result, Palou will only ever be an IndyCar driver, and when one of McLaren’s regular F1 drivers – Lando Norris or Oscar Piastri – leave the team or get injured, Palou will be kicking himself as his dream of reaching the pinnacle of motorsports will be gone.
McLaren have onboarded Pato O’Ward, who participated in FP1 for the team in Abu Dhabi, and Ryō Hirakawa, a Toyota endurance racer, as reserve drivers.
Palou has now conceded in court documents that he reneged on his contractual obligations with McLaren. He justified his decision by expressing “lost trust and confidence that [McLaren] genuinely intended to support his ambition to race in the Formula 1 Series”.
The crux of McLaren’s lawsuit against Palou hinges on various components like future sponsorships, F1 development, reserve duty costs, and the expenses involved in replacing Palou, including a $400,000 advance on his 2024 salary. Palou’s legal stance is to dismantle this claim, particularly challenging the notion of lost IndyCar revenue and prize money. By emphasizing the unpredictable nature of motorsport, he’s arguing that the potential outcomes of an uncompleted season cannot be successfully quantified.