F1's Embarrassing Legal Fight Between Van Der Garde And Sauber Is Finally Over

The two parties have reached a settlement and Giedo van der Garde's contract has ended by mutual consent, putting this whole Sauber mess to rest- but not without a parting shot
F1's Embarrassing Legal Fight Between Van Der Garde And Sauber Is Finally Over

The mess surrounding the Sauber F1 Team and its 2015 drivers has finally ended. Giedo van der Garde took the Swiss outfit to court, claiming he had a valid contract to race this year and that he had been unfairly dismissed.

Despite winning his case and Sauber’s appeal being rejected, van der Garde gave up his rights to race at the Australian Grand Prix on Saturday. Following further discussions, a settlement has now been reached and his contract has been ended by mutual consent.

In a detailed statement, he admitted that his F1 career is probably over, his focus has now switched to DTM or FIA WEC and that his sponsorship for 2015 was actually paid early in 2014 to help save Sauber. It read:

“We have reached a settlement with Sauber and my driver contract with the team has been ended by mutual consent. As a passionate race driver, I feel sad and am very disappointed. I had hoped at last to be able to show what I am capable of, driving a car for a respected midfield team in the 2015 season. This dream has been taken away from me and I know that my future in Formula One is probably over.

“I had a valid driver contract for the entire 2015 season and enforceable rights to it. I am a race driver and all I want is to race. However, the team principal was adamant not to let me drive, notwithstanding my legal rights to do so and a series of rulings and court orders in my favour and despite my race driving abilities. I will never understand this. I could have persisted, but the team principal had taken a decision contrary to my contract that she would not work with me and this became painfully clear in the paddock in Melbourne.”

Image source: Sauber F1 Team
Image source: Sauber F1 Team

The statement continued:

“To push on against this determination might have brought down the team, it would most certainly have wrecked the opening Grand Prix in Melbourne because the team´s cars would have been seized by the court, it may have ruined the careers of two young drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. Possibly the team´s directors would even be taken into custody. I decided I did not want to live with that idea, even though it was only the team’s management that was responsible for the bizarre situation I found myself in.

“My future in motorsport has not finished: on the contrary, I see this as a new beginning. I will sit down with my management in the coming weeks to discuss my future plans. I would love to take part in the WEC and the Le Mans 24 Hours in an LMP1 car. Former Formula One drivers do very well in this series. We also have our eye on other series such as the DTM in 2016 and beyond.

“There has been a lot of speculation in the media over the past week, so I want to set out clearly that my sponsors paid the sponsorship fee related to the 2015 season in its entirety to Sauber in the first half of 2014. This was simply in good faith and to help the team deal with its cash problems at the time. Effectively, it was my sponsor’s advanced payments that helped the team survive in 2014.

“Sauber’s financial decision-making in this case is bizarre and makes no sense to me. I am not at liberty to discuss details, but Sauber paid significant compensation to avoid honouring the contract they had with me. Only in that respect can I be satisfied that my rights have finally been recognised and that at least some justice has been done.

“I sincerely hope that what has happened to me will start a movement aimed at setting new standards and bringing about new regulations to help protect the rights of drivers. I would like to think that the values and business ethics that apply in any other business should be equally applicable in Formula 1. There are numerous examples of talented drivers with good intentions but without the sort of professional support that I have had, who have been broken by Formula 1 and who have seen their careers destroyed. I therefore hope that my unprecedented case which was heard last week by the Supreme Court of Victoria at Melbourne will serve as an example to illustrate what should change, and that new regulations will be implemented to help protect driver rights.”

The whole situation has been very embarrassing for Sauber, particularly for team principal Monisha Kaltenborn, who is a trained lawyer. You simply can’t sign three drivers to two race seats. It doesn’t work, and it is incredible that this situation has dragged on for so long. It also shows off F1’s current state, where teams towards the back of the grid continue to struggle financially and have to sign drivers who bring the most money. Changes need to be made.


No comments found.


Sponsored Posts