Zak Brown thinks Indycar star Alex Palou has hurt his chances of taking the step up to Formula 1.
Brown is the CEO of McLaren, who tried to poach Spaniard Palou – the 2021 champion, current Indycar leader, and recent McLaren F1 reserve driver – from Chip Ganassi to McLaren’s own Indycar squad.
Palou, 26, is now being sued for up to $30 million for allegedly reneging on the deal.
“Alex informed us that he has no intention of fulfilling his contract with us in Indycar or in F1,” Brown told DAZN at the Dutch GP.
“We have a contract, so that is now in a legal process. We filed suit in the London courts last week against him – both as a natural person and as his business entity.”
Some are puzzled by Palou’s actions, given that McLaren appeared to be the Spaniard’s clear route into Formula 1.
“I have no idea what’s going through his head because I haven’t talked to him,” Brown said. “We had a very good relationship and he hasn’t communicated with me personally, which is quite disappointing considering everything we’ve done for him and the opportunities we gave him.
“But things move fast in F1. Drivers can break their wrists at any moment,” he warned.
“If you want to do F1, you have to jump through some hoops and see what opportunities present themselves,” the McLaren CEO added.
Brown questioned whether Palou’s is the sort of behaviour that will endear him to other F1 teams.
“On a personal level, I think the relationship with our drivers is something that McLaren takes very seriously, and I think we do a good job creating a family atmosphere,” he said.
“So to be let down like this is quite disappointing.”
However, Brown said Palou’s departure from the McLaren family will be good news for the team’s other Formula 1 hopefuls.
“We have several reserve drivers,” he said.
“Last year we ran Alex and Pato (Ward) and I’ll work now with Andrea (Stella) to decide what we do this year,” Brown added, referring to the fact that McLaren needs to run a rookie driver in a F1 practice sessions this year.
“It won’t be until the end of the year so we have time to decide which drivers will do free practice and the rookie tests. Colton (Herta) and Pato need their super license and with the current system, their chances of getting it are going backwards.
“But Pato will be in the car this year and he has done a great job for us.”