Ganassi slates McLaren management in escalating war of words over Palou


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The owner of Chip Ganassi Racing has slated the management of rivals McLaren in a public statement as the row between the teams over Alex Palou escalated.

The two teams were involved in a dispute over the 2021 IndyCar champion’s services last year. Ganassi initially announced Palou had agreed to remain with them in 2023, only for the driver to refute their claim and state he was moving to McLaren.

The situation was eventually resolved in Ganassi’s favour. Although Palou has participated in F1 tests for McLaren, including in the first practice session for last year’s United States Grand Prix, he continued to race for Ganassi in IndyCar. He holds a comfortable lead in the championship ahead of today’s race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Palou was widely expected to join McLaren’s IndyCar team next year. However comments made by McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown this week indicated this would not happen.

Monaco Increase Management, which represents Palou, announced they had split from their driver, saying in a statement on Saturday they were “bitterly disappointed to learn about Alex Palou’s decision to break an existing agreement with McLaren for 2024 and beyond.”

“Together, we had built a relationship that we thought went beyond any contractual obligation and culminated in winning the 2021 IndyCar crown and tracing a path to F1 opportunities,” MIM added. “Life goes on and we wish Alex all the best for his future achievements.”

Following that announcement Ganassi hit out at McLaren.

“Anyone that knows me knows that I don’t make a habit of commenting about contract situations,” he said in a statement issued by his team. “Subsequently, I have been quiet since day one of this story but now I feel I must respond. I grew up respecting the McLaren Team and their success. The new management does not get my same respect.”

“Alex Palou has been a part of our team and under contract since the 2021 season,” he continued. “It is the interference of that contract from McLaren that began this process and ironically, they are now playing the victim. Simply stated, the position of McLaren IndyCar regarding our driver is inaccurate and wrong; he remains under contract with CGR.”

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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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10 comments on “Ganassi slates McLaren management in escalating war of words over Palou”

  1. Does Palou have a super license? He’s pretty impressive, makes the rest of the field look like amateurs in some races.

    1. @jimgogo yes, it looks like he obtained a superlicence last year.

    2. RandomMallard
      12th August 2023, 21:29

      @jimgogo As he has won an Indycar championship within the last 3 seasons, and he looks very likely to claim another title this year unless something goes badly wrong at the end of the season, he definitely has enough points to be eligible for a super license. Of course, he may actually have one (I don’t know for certain as I can’t find a definitive list – I expect the FIA tries to keep that secret), and as he is a McLaren F1 reserve, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did have one. Even if not though, he is definitely eligible.

  2. Does this all mean that Palou is signing for Alpha Tauri, as he didn’t fancy being lent by Mclaren to Williams due to Piastri’s strong performance? That’s my conclusion.

  3. Palou one more season with CGR, and then as two (or maybe even three, he is that consistent good) times Indycar champ into F1 with Andretti?

    Andretti much more clear in their plans, not like McLaren?

    With Norris and Piastri, where at McLaren would Palou fit in? Being placed at Williams, assuming McLaren even has a say in the Williams line up, can they guarantee that? Sergeant out and then Alex and Alex at Williams? I believe that McLaren makes a lot of promises but no firm deals. What did or do they promise O’Ward? Too many variables.

  4. Andretti buys Alpine and brings in Palou as driver in 2025/6?

  5. There’s clearly more to this than McLaren playing victims. Palou’s management team has quit in protest of his reneging on the McLaren deal so clearly they felt the deal was legitimate as well and something untoward has transpired.

    There’s no doubting Palou’s talent on track but it seems he is very difficult to deal with off track. If he makes it to the F1 paddock, I don’t see him lasting long if he plays these contract games with F1 teams unless he is fighting for podiums in his first year like Piastri is doing.

    1. @g-funk There is an alternative narrative: Palou was enticed to break his contract with Ganassi by promises of an F1 seat from Brown and the urging of his management, who stood to take a cut of Palou’s F1 earnings. His F1 hopes were evident when he announced that he would drive for “McLaren Racing” in 2023 (not specifying the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team). Weeks later, Piastri was announced as Ricciardo’s replacement, taking the F1 seat that was dangled in front of Palou. Now, Piastri seems firmly ensconced at McLaren; whatever path to F1 may still exist for Palou, it no longer runs through McLaren.

      The above is speculation; what is known, thanks to the public records from the Palou/Ganassi legal proceedings, is that Palou’s existing Ganassi contract prevents him from entering into a contract with another team before September of this year.

      So, to continue speculating, perhaps whatever Palou had signed with Zak Brown wasn’t a legally binding contract but merely a statement of intent (ironically, the same nonbinding tool with which Alpine thought it had locked down Piastri). And perhaps this is why Brown’s statement refers to Palou’s “commitment” and his (now former) management’s statement refers to an “agreement” and “a relationship that we thought went beyond any contractual obligation.”

      In this telling of the story, what was untoward was perhaps Zak Brown’s empty promises of an F1 seat, or Palou’s management misrepresenting his contract with Ganassi to Brown. And Palou choosing to rehire his old manager, Roger Yasukawa, who shepherded him through his Super Formula and Dale Coyne years, is a young driver choosing to reassert control over his own life and surround himself with people who have his best interests at heart.

      1. Thanks for presenting a different view of “events” there @markzastrow. To me it seems that Palou was probably not happy with Ganassi last year, and yeah, saw an opportunity to race for McLaren in Indycars and / or in F1. In the end the contract with Ganassi was more or less watertight so he could not get out for this season, and at the same time it seems Ganassi has done a solid job of wooing his top driver to get fully with the team again and want to continue.

        As for McLaren/Brown, maybe they would not have picked up Piastri had they not seen trouble with the Palou deal (for F1), or they would have tied Palou down for a season or 2 in Indycar first?. Or maybe they just wanted to try and upset the apple cart at a rival team (it seems that is what Ganassi thinks of it). In the end, I guess we might learn more once all of them write their biografy in a decade or so!

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