Chip Ganassi driver Alex Palou has conceded that he expected his team to file a lawsuit after he agreed a deal with McLaren hours after his current side announced an extension.
Palou took three wins with the Chip Ganassi IndyCar team last season, but has failed to add any more to his tally in 2022 despite standing on the podium three times.
He finished P6 in Toronto last time out – his first race since his contractual saga began.
Chip Ganassi had prematurely gone ahead and announced that the Spaniard had renewed his deal to stay with them beyond the end of this season, and they even wrote up some quotes on his behalf.
Palou would later confirm that he has not signed a new deal with his current employer, neither had he signed off on any press release including his words.
Later that same day, McLaren Arrow SP announced that they have signed Palou for 2023, almost certainly meaning that Felix Rosenqvist is set for a Formula E return when the side take over from Mercedes EQ next season.
Chip Ganassi are adamant that McLaren’s approach to Palou was not legal, and that the 25-year-old has a binding contract with them.
“As the result of a competing racing team improperly attempting to contract with him notwithstanding the clear terms of our contract, we are proceeding to legal process pursuant to the contract,” they confirmed.
Being part of McLaren’s project also means getting some time in the Formula 1 car, as Patricio O’Ward has had as well as Andretti driver Colton Herta – although the 22-year-old is not officially part of the McLaren family.
Rachel E. Epstein, Palou’s attorney, suggested that it was unnecessary for Chip Ganassi to try and harm her client’s career by filing a lawsuit and going public with it.
“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,” she said, quoted by the Race.
Palou confirmed to the race that he will be “in the [McLaren] family” next season, and is satisfied with the way his situation is being handled by his team.
“So far, yeah, no issues,” he added.
“I have people that have been around me for a long time and I know they care about me, and they’ll do everything that is best for me and my interest and for my career.”
Dismissing Chip Ganassi’s claim that he was not re-signing was compounded by McLaren’s announcement hours afterwards, so the Spaniard was well aware that his employers would not be happy.
“To be honest, I was ready for it, I think everything exploded before Toronto and from that moment, I knew it was going to come,” explained Palou.
“I didn’t know if it was going to come in three days or two weeks but yeah, I was ready for it.”
Palou currently sits sixth in the IndyCar Drivers’ Standings, while Marcus Ericsson leads the way, eight points clear of Will Power.