Last July, Alex Palou shocked the IndyCar community when he announced he would race in 2023 for Arrow McLaren SP—even though he still had one more year (at team owner Chip Ganassi’s option) remaining on his contract with Chip Ganassi Racing.
Now, Palou made what likely will be the biggest headline of 2023 to go along with last year’s exploits, when he informed the Arrow McLaren SP organization on Friday that he would no longer be honoring his already signed contract for 2024.
But apparently after dropping his former management team, Palou believes he does not have to honor his deal with Arrow McLaren SP any longer for 2024 and beyond. What is even more puzzling is the fact that Palou was earmarked to drive either in IndyCar for Arrow McLaren SP, or would have driven for the parent McLaren Formula 1 team starting next season (particularly if he clinches his second IndyCar title this year).
The biggest question now is where will the likely 2023 champion wind up driving in 2024 – and it’s looking more and more like he may be staying with CGR.
Here is a statement issued by Ganassi that was released around noon ET on Saturday:
"Anyone that knows me knows that I don't make a habit of commenting about contract situations. 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. 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."
It's possible Palou believes Arrow McLaren SP may be a step backward for him if he remains in the IndyCar circuit. Consider that CGR has won a combined six of the first 14 races on the 17-race IndyCar schedule.
Arrow McLaren SP, meanwhile, is considered one of the marquee teams in IndyCar, but has not won even one race this season, a very telling statistic if you’re Palou.
Remember also, Ganassi sued Palou for breach of contract last year, a suit that was eventually settled out of court. It’s very possible Arrow McLaren SP may turn around and sue Palou for breach of contract, as well, for his failure to not drive for the team starting next year – which potentially can throw off Arrow McLaren’s overall strategy when it comes to driver lineup and planning.
Palou continued to repeat a single two-word mantra when asked Saturday if he was coming back to CGR or what his future plans overall were: “No comment.”
If Palou stays with CGR on the IndyCar side, he would essentially becomes the heir apparent to Dixon, who turned 43 three weeks ago.
However, with the way Scott Dixon drove—and won the Gallagher Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course—on Saturday, it doesn’t look like he’ll be retiring any time soon.