Spanish IndyCar driver Alex Palou appears to have ended his relationship with the Woking team, as Chip Ganassi hits out at Zak Brown.
Along with the battle with Alpine for the services of Oscar Piastri, last year witnessed McLaren in a legal struggle with Chip Ganassi Racing over Palou.
In July, the Woking team had announced that 2021 IndyCar champion Palou had signed to drive for them this season, however just 24 hours earlier Ganassi had announced that they had extended his contract by exercising an option they held on him, the press release including a quote from the Spanish driver which he insisted didn't come from him.
Adding to the confusion was the fact that in its release McLaren hadn't stated which of its teams Palou would drive for.
As well as reiterating their claim to Palou, Ganassi filed a civil lawsuit against the Spaniard and in September 2022, it was announced that an agreement had been reached by all parties that would see him continue with the American outfit for the 2023 season, while McLaren announced it had signed him to test the MCL35M at Barcelona and again at the Red Bull Ring and that he would also take part in the opening session of the United States Grand Prix weekend at COTA.
On the cusp of his second IndyCar title it appeared set that Palou would be joining McLaren for 2024, however, Zak Brown has announced that the Spaniard has declared that he has no intention of honouring his contract.
"This is incredibly disappointing considering the commitment he has made to us both directly and publicly and our significant investment in him based on that commitment," writes Brown in a letter to McLaren employees initially sourced by the Associated Press.
"We have paid him a significant first payment toward his 2024 season in addition to the millions of dollars toward developing him in our Formula 1 testing program and in his reserve driver role with a potential drive in F1 in the future.
"Unfortunately, it now appears our belief, commitment, investment and trust in Alex was misplaced as it is not being reciprocated."
Brown subsequently told The Race.com: "I'm extremely disappointed that Alex Palou does not intend to honour his contractual obligations to ace with us in IndyCar in 2024 and beyond.
"That is all I have to say on the topic for the time being."
Further muddying the waters, it was subsequently revealed that Palou has parted ways with his management company.
"Monaco Increase Management is bitterly disappointed to learn about Alex Palou's decision to break an existing agreement with McLaren for 2024 and beyond," it said in its own statement. "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.
"Life goes on and we wish Alex all the best for his future achievements."
In a move that fits right in with the Drive to Survive style melodrama, Chip Ganassi hit out at Brown, accusing him of "playing the victim".
"Anyone that knows me knows that I don't make a habit of commenting about contract situations," he said in a brief statement released by the team.
"Subsequently I have been quiet since day one of this story but now I feel I must respond," he added. "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."