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Driver admits violating McLaren contract in $23m lawsuit

Driver admits violating McLaren contract in $23m lawsuit

Driver admits violating McLaren contract in $23m lawsuit

Driver admits violating McLaren contract in $23m lawsuit

IndyCar champion Alex Palou has admitted in court that he violated his contract with McLaren Racing, expressing that he had 'lost trust and confidence' in the team.

McLaren filed a $23 million lawsuit against the two-time IndyCar champion when Palou chose to stay with Chip Ganassi Racing, contrary to earlier agreements to depart the team and join McLaren in IndyCar, as well as serve as their Formula 1 reserve driver.

In August 2023, Zak Brown, the CEO of McLaren, received communication informing him that Palou would not be joining McLaren. Instead, Palou opted for a three-year extension with Ganassi, extending his commitment until 2026.

The lawsuit arose from claims that Palou's decision not to join McLaren resulted in $23 million in damages, encompassing sponsorship losses tied to the Spanish driver, expenses related to his role as an F1 reserve driver, the development of Palou, and a $400,000 advance on his 2024 salary.

However, Palou has conceded in a detailed 20-page document filed to the High Court of Justice, Business and Property Courts of England and Wales Commercial Court, that he indeed breached his contract.

The statement claims that [Palou] "lost trust and confidence that [McLaren] genuinely intended to support his ambition to race in the Formula One Series and decided to continue racing with CGR in the Indy Car Series instead."

[Palou] 'therefore admits that he renounced his contractual obligations' with McLaren, adding: "the real issue between the parties is as to the quantum of any damages which the Defendants are liable to pay.”

Alex Palou has admitted he breached his McLaren contract
CEO of McLaren Zak Brown filed a $23 million lawsuit against Palou

READ MORE: F1 pundit questions Horner for spilling Hamilton secrets

McLaren replacements

McLaren has recently announced that IndyCar driver Pato O'Ward will step in as Palou's replacement as the F1 reserve driver, taking part in the first practice session during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend.

O'Ward taking the helm as Arrow McLaren's lead driver prompted the recruitment of David Malukas to secure the remaining seat in the IndyCar series.

Pato O'Ward will take the McLaren F1 reserve seat

Palou had previously expressed that the situation with McLaren is 'sad', yet he shared a rationale for why it had to unfold as it did.

“I agree it’s sad,” Palou told NBC. “I’ve always tried to be a nice person, and I always thought I was doing the right things. That’s how my family taught me how to do stuff, and then suddenly, I look like I do everything wrong. That I don’t listen. And that I just do whatever I feel on that day."

In the legal documents from Palou's side of the lawsuit, the claims made by McLaren were labelled as 'embarrassing', particularly as McLaren alleged revenue losses in connection to the F1 series.

The statement continued: “This claim is embarrassing for want of particularity and speculative in the extreme. The performance of any team in a future Indy Car Series cannot be predicted with any degree of certainty. Driver performance is variable.”

Palou's representatives contend and firmly conclude that the claims would only hold validity if Palou was officially McLaren's F1 driver.

READ MORE: Verstappen fires warning shot at F1 legend in bold 2024 claim

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