Ganassi brings lawsuit against its driver Palou


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Chip Ganassi Racing has begun legal action against its driver Alex Palou, court documents have revealed.

The details of Ganassi’s lawsuit were not revealed in a series of documents released by Marion County Super Court in Indianapolis, where the team is based. Palou and ALPA Racing SL of Barcelona, Spain are named as defendants.

A dispute between the reigning IndyCar champion and Ganassi arose two weeks ago after the team announced it had taken up an option on his services for the 2023 season. Palou denied the claims hours later, and McLaren SP subsequently announced it had signed the 25-year-old.

A press release and social media posts from McLaren SP and Palou announcing the move were among the exhibits submitted by Ganassi in support of its claim. A request was made to seal other exhibits as well as the details of Ganassi’s complaint.

The team’s representatives John R. Maley, Dylan A. Pittman and James H. Voyles, Jr said in a statement that releasing these documents would risk putting them at a competitive disadvantage. “Dissemination of Ganassi’s and [the] defendants’ confidential business information concerning the parties’ relationship and contractually confidential aspects of their agreements would create a significant risk of harm to Ganassi as an IndyCar racing organisation, particularly because Ganassi’s competitors could use this information to their benefit and to Ganassi’s detriment,” they said.

Ganassi has also formally requested a prompt hearing on a motion for a preliminary injunction. It asked for this to take place before the end of next month. The IndyCar season is due to conclude at Laguna Seca on September 11th.

Despite the dispute between driver and team over his planned move, Palou lies sixth in the IndyCar standings, 44 points behind series leader Marcus Ericsson.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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13 comments on “Ganassi brings lawsuit against its driver Palou”

  1. petebaldwin (@)
    27th July 2022, 15:16

    Ultimately, this should be pretty straightforward to work out… Either Ganassi have an option in their favour in his contract (in which case he’s contracted to Ganassi) or they don’t. I can’t see Ganassi taking this to court unless they’re fairly sure what the contract says so that means he’s contracted to them and in order to terminate the contract, some money is going to have to change hands.

    1. I’d tend to think similarly @petewaldwin, though in motorsport I don’t think we should exclude a possible ‘ego says sue even though lawyers say please no’ situation.

    2. @petebaldwin yes Jenson Button in 2004 was in a a very similar position when he was contracted to Honda and he stabbed in the back secretly signing for Williams forgetting Hondas option clause.

      Fortunately for Jenson in retrospect the contract recognition board ruled in BAR Hondas favour to keep Button and he eventually ended up wining (albeit renamed) a WDC with the Brackley based team in 2009..

    3. That is quite likely @petebaldwin, @bosyber. On the other hand, they could just as well know that he has a fair argument about something in the clauses (support promised, money, … who knows) and this move helps to force them into a settlement where he will have to agree to sit out next year without racing for either team. The timeline then is important for them since they need to secure a replacement for him in the car.

  2. We knew this would be coming. Now, does he drive the rest of the season or sit out, by either parties decision.

  3. I find it astonishing this is happening so publicly. If he was keen to drive for McLaren, and they were keen to have him, I don’t know why there wasn’t just some backroom negotiation to buy out his contract.

    The weirdest thing is the “quote” from Palou in the Chip Ganassi press statement they put out about taking up the option of the contract extension. It shows you how much any written quote from a driver put out by a team can be complete BS, written by some PR person.

    1. What was reported over the weekend on the IndyCar broadcast was that when McLaren signed him they were under the assumption that Palou was not going to be under contract with Ganassi next season. The reporter made it sound like McLaren are not interested in a buy-out or getting involved in anything messy with Ganassi. There is also the specter that McLaren move on from Palou because they were misled and need to make decisions about whom to put in which seat in each of the categories they compete in. Meanwhile, Ganassi have cut Palou off from remote conferences and strategy sessions. Unless Palou’s team have something up their sleeve this seems like quite a dramatic own-goal and may set his progress back years.

      1. sure seems like it )-8

  4. We have 2 parties who think they are right – a lot of times that means a lawsuit. Too bad, only the lawyers really win a lawsuit.

    A clause like being able to extend the contract is rather straight forward. The issue could boil to, does the contract say “one party may extend the contract by notifying the other part”y or does “an extension requires mutual agreement”? My bet, Alex has a mutual agreement and will soon be testing an F1 car.

    McLaren has built a great stable of current drivers – hope they can keep them all happy

  5. Good job that this would never happen in F1

    1. The Dolphins
      27th July 2022, 23:14

      Monisha Kaltenborn has left the chat.

  6. And if Ganassi does win, would they actually want Palou as a driver? Seems like there might be bad blood and motivation problems if he was forces to drive, against his will, for Ganassi.

  7. There is almost no way that Alex Palou drives for Chip Ganassi next year. Even if Chip Ganassi is successful in their lawsuit, neither side will want to continue with the other due to mistrust. If Palou had backed down already then time would heal the relationship but the fact this is going to court has surely destroyed any chance of this relationship continuing.

    I see this purely about extracting compensation for a release, Chip Ganassi will have no problem filling the seat if they signal it is available.

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