McLaren has launched legal proceedings against current IndyCar leader and its own Formula 1 reserve driver, Alex Palou. The move comes after Zak Brown informed his team last week – the Associated Press first reported – that Palou had told him he would not be driving for McLaren next year. Brown claimed McLaren had already paid Palou part of his 2024 salary and invested millions in its development through its F1 testing program.
The news that McLaren is now taking legal action against Palou was first reported by IndyStar on Friday. In a statement to The Race, Brown said: “We have made a significant investment in Alex Palou and look forward to racing with him in 2024.”
“We trust the legal system to resolve this matter and will leave our comments at that.
“As a team we are focused on the final races of this season and our plans for 2024 which we will announce as soon as we are ready.”
It is the second team in two years to launch court proceedings against Palou after he claimed last year he was leaving current team Chip Ganassi Racing and joining McLaren shortly after Ganassi announced his whereabouts. That was settled out of court with Palou staying with Ganassi in 2023 in the IndyCar career and only joining McLaren for F1 testing, but it was widely expected in the paddock that he would also join McLaren in the IndyCar career in 2024.
According to the IndyStar report, McLaren Racing and its IndyCar team, which are two separate companies, have filed a lawsuit against Palou and his racing company ALPA Racing USA LLC in a UK commercial court.
Morgan Lewis and Bockius represent McLaren.
The Indy star said Roger Yasukawa – who is believed to be managing Palou following his split from Monaco Creating Management last week – declined to comment on the lawsuit. Yasukawa has been a key advisor to Palou’s management since he competed in Super Formula in 2019. When Palou joined Monaco Improve Management last year, MIM claimed that Yasukawa joined the organization to work alongside Palou in the IndyCar and is listed on their website.
Coincidentally, it is believed that Yasukawa’s father worked for McLaren.
The IndyStar also alleges that the two lawsuits against Palou and ALPA were filed on August 16 and 11, respectively, with Brown mailing his letter telling the team Palou will not be joining.
What does this message tell us?
It felt like it was only a matter of time before this fight escalated in some shape, shape or form. Few details are available at this time, but the fact that this is a Part 7 filing, used only to make monetary claims, is significant. From this we can conclude that at the moment McLaren does not appear to be trying to force Palou to join and drive for his team next year. This is the type of filing you make when you want to recover money you believe is owed to you.
And of course, Brown had mentioned in his letter to his own team that Palou was the subject of a million-dollar investment in the form of testing and an initial paycheck for 2024 as well.
Ganassi has claimed Palou is under contract with them, and as we know from the Palou lawsuit last year, Palou’s original contract included an exclusivity clause that ran until September 2023, which was intended to prevent him from negotiating with other teams until then .