Lawyers for Palou respond to Ganassi lawsuit

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Lawyers representing IndyCar driver Alex Palou have responded to a lawsuit brought against him by his Chip Ganassi Racing team.

Documents released by Marion County Super Court in Indianapolis yesterday confirmed Palou is the subject of a lawsuit from his team.

The dispute relates to Palou’s decision to join rivals McLaren SP next year. He announced the move shortly after Ganassi claimed it had taken up an option for the reigning IndyCar champion to remain at their team in 2023.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said at the time Palou would have the chance to join their Testing of Previous Cars programme it is running for his IndyCar rivals Colton Herta, who drove one of their 2021 cars earlier this month, and Pato O’Ward.

Reacting to yesterday’s development, Palou’s representatives accused Ganassi of obstructing the driver’s efforts to compete in F1.

“We are disappointed that Chip Ganassi Racing would attempt to keep Alex from an opportunity to compete in Formula 1, and even more so with CGR’s public court filings and continued commentary to the press on this matter,” said Rachel Epstein, partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP representing Palou, in a statement supplied to RaceFans.

“Alex has consistently given his very best effort to CGR and it is unfortunate that CGR would attempt to deny Alex this opportunity. We would hope the parties can resolve this amicably, but if not, we look forward to resolving this matter in a private arbitration, as CGR has requested.”

Palou is the latest in a series of IndyCar drivers McLaren has done deals with in recent months. As well as renewing its contracts with IndyCar drivers O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, and signing Herta to a test deal, the team has also hired Alexander Rossi from Andretti.

It intends to a run a three-car IndyCar team next year and also has two seats in its new Formula E team to fill. Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo are contracted to race for McLaren in F1 next year.

The IndyCar season will continue this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, where Palou is due to race again for Ganassi.

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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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  • 16 comments on “Lawyers for Palou respond to Ganassi lawsuit”

    1. Yep. I guessed it right.

      Mclaren A Plan is to have Ricciardo on F1, Rosenqvist on FE and Palou on Indy for 23 and then put Palou in F1 on the following year.

      Plan B would be to replace Ricciardo with Palou.

      1. Yes it’s definitely starting to look like that, even the wording Ricciardo’s comment didn’t feel 100% reassuring to me, and now Palou’s team saying it’s about competing in F1…

        As for McLaren, a slightly underwhelming choice for an F1 seat in my view, Palou is quick and consistent, but O’Ward would be a more exciting racer for F1. Well they just got a bit more time to figure this stuff out…

        1. It could just be that Palou has a paragraph in his Ganassi contract that enables him to get out if offered an F1 drive though @hunocsi, so they need to stress that McLaren offered exactly that to be able to get out of the contract.

          1. @bascb That crossed my mind as well, I assume most near-top level driver contracts have a clause like that. Still, that should require him to be offered an actual race drive.

      2. I think Palou is a natural for F1 with his ultra smooth, make it look easy driving style. More so than any other IndyCar driver. But he has this mess going. How does he drive the rest of the season for a team (his own) that is suing him, and 2023?

      3. Mclaren also has a contract with Alexander Rossi for next season. Rosenqvist would have driven the Formula E car next year but I can’t see Palou leaving CGS anymore with the lawsuit. Mclaren has no interest in paying his release clause fee or any addition fees to get him in the first place. This lawsuit is between Palou and CGS, if he has to resolve it on his own terms.

      4. yes please, REPLACE Ricciardo….its soooo obvious. what are they waiting?

    2. From this info, it does seem that Palou is relying on a moral argument rather than a legal one which will be worth next to nothing in an actual courtroom (but maybe more in the court of public opinion). Simply saying Palou has an F1 opportunity with McLaren SP surely can’t override Ganassi’s option on him unless there is an express provision to the contrary.

      Maybe that specific provision does exist and the argument will come down to what an ‘F1 opportunity’ means, is it a test to prove ability or an actual race drive.

      1. Great analysis.. his lawyer stressed the F1 point so I’d bet that it is in the contract. it think it comes down to the wording of the clause, i.e. does a contract with a F1 option for 2023 fulfill the clause. Probably not, because like you said it sounds like Palou is on the backfoot. He may have an insurance for the compensation for CGR in his McLaren contract though.

      2. Spot on.
        This might actually become quite interesting if they will discuss those details in court; especially what McLaren has promised Palou.

    3. Like any other sport, do you really want someone on the team who no longer wishes to be there? This discord will lead to resentment and lack of performance.

      1. No, you don’t. But you sure want to be compensated for the other party’s breach of contract. Getting a legal judgment will help add to the pile of money Palou will need to come up with to walk away.

        1. Yep that’s the point. This will settle, but it’s a question of how parties maneuver within the scope of Indiana contract law to get to the table in the best position and avoid a trial. It’s like racing—-Palou needs to get sufficiently along side to claim the corner but neither wants to crash. On the same Iines, Quinn Emmanuel is one of the best litigation firms in the US and they ain’t cheap. It’s like hiring a magic circle firm in the UK. You especially don’t want to go to trial because a lot of that settlement money would just be going to buy new boats for the firm’s partners.

    4. Guys how will Mclaren have 5 drivers if there only running 3 cars. O ward Rosenqvist Herta Rossi and Palou. Will 2 be satelite drivers abit like Zarco does for pramac in MotoGP

      1. Herta has a contract with Andretti I think, and the drivers haven’t been confirmed for Indycar, just that they have a McLaren contract – so at least one of them will drive for their new Formula E team.

      2. Like @hunocsi said those are planned for FE at least 1 of them and the other has a contract with Andretti.

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