It is something that is pretty much unprecedented in motorsports history. Chip Ganassi Racing has filed a lawsuit against their own champion driver Alex Palou.
INDIANAPOLIS — Yep. We’re talking Alex Palou.
If you haven’t heard, Chip Ganassi Racing filed a lawsuit against the 2021 IndyCar Series champion, Monday, for an alleged breach of contract when Palou’s contract was extended by Ganassi just hours before the driver announced that he would be driving for the McLaren organization in 2023.
“I was ready for it,” Palou said, Thursday, indicating that tensions between himself and the team are high enough that he and his legal team knew that a lawsuit was incoming. Perhaps this could be because Ganassi took away Palou’s ability to view car telemetry from home.
Despite all these tensions, Chip Ganassi and Alex Palou still have a singular goal in mind, and that is to repeat as IndyCar Series Champion. While it is obvious that excellent on-track performance is needed to achieve that goal, PR work is an essential part of motorsports in 2022, as well. A quick look at the Chip Ganassi Racing social media accounts shows that they have not stopped promoting anything relating to Palou and his No. 10, such as promoting a new livery for the Gallagher Grand Prix.
Bring your sunglasses to the track.😎 This beauty shines bright like diamond!
See the new No. 10 @AmericanLegion Honda livery at the #GallagherGP this weekend @IMS.
It’s not just a car. It’s a campaign. Learn more at https://t.co/bJJr1F00Dp
⁰#BeTheOne // #INDYCAR pic.twitter.com/W15iHxoawe
— Chip Ganassi Racing (@CGRTeams) July 28, 2022
What does Palou think about this? Reporters spoke with him, Thursday, and here are the big takeaways:
A positive, yet cautious mindset
In his short time in IndyCar so far, Palou has become known for his calm, soft-spoken manner, as well as his consistency on track. He keeps that same general manner, but it’s becoming clearer by the day that all of the media attention and questioning may be getting to him. This was evident when the 25-year-old Spaniard said “… it would obviously be better if they didn’t have 15 cameras on me right now, but yeah, I cannot change it.” at the media bullpen.
To be honest, who can blame him?
Despite being the reigning series champion, Palou isn’t a driver that usually attracts a lot of media attention, due to that calm and cool manner. Obviously, this changed a few weeks back following all of the contract drama, and one has to wonder what that does to a young driver.
A “Chip” on his shoulder
This one seems obvious, as people don’t typically file lawsuits against people they like. Yet again, Chip Ganassi is in a unique position, because the man that he is suing has the potential to bring him a third championship in a row. This is why Ganassi’s first statement following the original sequence of drama simply reinforced that Alex Palou is his driver for 2023. However, the 64-year-old seemed to change his tone on Friday at Indianapolis. While talking to Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press, Ganassi simply restated what Palou has been saying, stating “well, Alex said he’d be a McLaren driver next year.” If that quote alone doesn’t demonstrate the intra-team tensions, I’m not sure what does.
The end goal
What all of this comes down to is this: Alex Palou either will or will not drive in some sort of racing series next year. If he does, it will be either at CGR in the IndyCar series or with McLaren in one of the series that they have entries in. With Monday’s lawsuit, the world now knows how the outcome of this chaotic situation will be decided. Of course, no one knows every single detail, but the Marion County, Indiana, court system will be the ultimate decider of if Alex Palou has a job next year, and if he does, who his employer is. Unlike Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward, who have already had Formula 1 tests with McLaren, Palou has not had one yet, and as of Thursday, doesn’t have one scheduled.
With the IndyCar season approaching its close within the next two months, the world may know the result of this debacle sooner rather than later.
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