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Van der Garde case drags on as Sauber appeal to be heard on Thursday
Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  11 Mar 2015   |  8:27 am GMT  |  249 comments

Giedo van der Garde’s claim on a Sauber race seat for 2015 is set to drag on until tomorrow with the team’s appeal against a decision to allow the Dutchman to race will now be heard at 9.30am on Thursday.

On Wednesday morning in Melbourne Justice Clyde Croft handed down a judgement in favour of Van der Garde, adding that the ruling “applies to the whole of the 2015 Formula 1 Season — not just in relation to the coming few days in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix”.

Sauber quickly moved to appeal the decision, with the hearing was scheduled for 3.15pm on Wednesday afternoon, presided over by Justices Beach, Whelan and Ferguson.

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 07.25.10

However, when the appeal court convened, a lack of familiarity with the case led to the postponement of the hearing until tomorrow morning.

Following the morning judgement ruling in Van der Garde’s favour, Sauber issued a statement saying that “the outcome is unfortunately not as expected.”

Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn added: “We are disappointed with this decision and now need to take time to understand what it means and the impact it will have on the start of our season. What we cannot do is jeopardise the safety of our team, or any other driver on the track, by having an unprepared driver in a car that has now been tailored to two other assigned drivers.”

The team has now made the decision to fight and so the uncertainty around Sauber’s drivers for this weekend and beyond continues. And it could go on for some time tomorrow, with the Van der Garde’s representative being granted two hours tomorrow morning to state their case, lawyers for current drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr having half an hour, and Sauber getting a further one and a half hours to re-state its case.



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This season will be less interesting if Felipe Nasr loses his seat to vDG.

Felipe Nasr overtaking Felipe Massa.

Field day for commentators.


Shame on Sauber for this, and well done to VDG for standing his ground. Hopefully the outcome will set a precedent for respecting contracts in this sport.

I think Sauber’s lawyers were particularly inept when arguing that it would be unsafe for VDG to be in the car…not only is that ridiculous, it’s not even a defense, as he should have been prepared in the car in the first place!!


Court ruled in favour of GVD … interesting to see how this weekend play out now for Sauber…


Rumor is that Sauber will pull out of the Australian GP. By doing that they will minimize the damage compared to the breach of driver contracts and try to solve the issue before the next GP.

Personally, I think that if they will not be able to solve it, they will probably get out of the business as this might bring them so much dept causing them problems trough the rest of the year or next one (if they will survive).


I can’t help but see this situation as a symptom, the rootcause of which is F1’s current revenue distribution model forcing the midfield teams to adopt a mentality of race seats being their main saleable products, with a much higher revenue potential than anything earned from race participation and prize monies.

Sauber is clearly responsible for this current debacle and had the means to handle it a lot better than they have but, if it was a case of break driver contracts or go bust, I can understand their choice!


>if it was a case of break driver contracts or go bust

Except that means its already too late for the Team since they’ve screwed a guy who won’t just bend over and take it.


Would love to know Peter Sauber’s thoughts on all this. He always seemed a decent guy and seeing the current management of the team that bears his name dragging the Sauber name into the gutter I’m sure he cant be too happy.


Yes, me too. And what exactly is his legal/official connection with the Team nowadays?


I’m loving VDG’s hunger.

Sure, if he does drive in Melbourne it will be a super chilly atmosphere in the pit, but then Sauber aren’t going to jeopardise a good result for the sake of making a driver fell uncomfortable. It would be extremely immature of them anyway.

I just saw James on the BBC (well done by the way Mr. Allen) and he mentioned the complication of a super license. Doesn’t VDG have a super license? Or has it expired?

Also, I wonder if they will have to change the livery of the car for VDG sponsors?


as i read is the team to obtain the super-licence; in this case i dare to mention JA answer to

“what if the team doesn’t have it” ?!?

Q: I question whether he will get a Superlicence awarded by FIA, he cannot drive without one. UQ


Well surprise surprise the appeal has been Rejected.

Also surprisingly the judge basically said ….. So why did you choose not to coply with the swill ruling?

I used to really have a soft spot for the sauber team, but whoever is behind these management decisions is really low.

Good on vdg for standing up for himself.

Sad thing is I now feel for the other drivers and the hard working members of the team if this leads to bad outcomes for them.



Ahhh, should really read over before hitting the comment button!


I really liked “swill” better in this situation! 🙂


And now I see contempt of court filed and talk of impounding cars and seizing passports.

This could get interesting


Latest news:

Sauber lost appeal – judges completely unimpressed with Saubers arguments. Sauber also has to pay GVG costs.

Then straight back to court for Contempt of Court hearing against Sauber and Monisha personally. GVG lawyer asking to freeze Sauber assets in Australia for ignoring court orders.

Pretty much means Sauber doesn’t get to race if GVG not in a car.


Just watched the webcast of the verdict. Sauber’s appeal was dismissed, however they granted leave to appeal (don’t like their chances of being successful on a further appeal though based on that.)

Lachlan Mackinnon

Surely this will come down to money and breach of contract?

GVD is pursuing his legal options and keeping his F1 dream alive – a contract is a contract. Sauber are focussed on their survival and 300 jobs – so bugger the contract we need pay drivers with deeper pockets.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, Sauber probably should have recognised their financial plight earlier and built in exit clauses so as to keep their options (income streams) open.

I can’t see GVD racing. Forgetting the moral rights/wrongs for a second, Sauber will choose whatever course of action they need to survive – racing with Ericsson/Nasr who have more money than GVD.

My question – if the legal ruling doesn’t change (likely) and Sauber ignore that ruling and race with their chosen drivers, won’t it simply require Sauber paying lots of money to GVD?


It’s VDG, not GVD!

GVD is short for “Godverdomme” in dutch. Use google translate for a translation. 🙂


Apparently their contracts with Nasr & Ericson have “get out of jail” clauses which allow them to not run them but keep the money. Their deal with VDG evidently does not.

If they don’t run him they’ll be in contempt of court and could have various assets seized, like cars for example.

He’s not in this for the money, he wants to race in F1.


not wise to cut part of your trousers to patch a hole in the same trousers and expect it not to be noticed.


Funny you spelling Giedo van der Garde that way, cause that abbreviation means G*d damnit in Dutch 🙂

Lachlan Mackinnon

oh bugger…..thanks for the heads up. Apologies to all dutch readers out there! As expected the courts here in Australia have upheld the VDG decision and could hold Sauber in contempt of court if they don’t comply. To add to the circus, the FIA are stating the whole thing now hinges on processing of a super licence – you can’t tell me they can’t fast track that??

Still looking forward to finally head down to Melbourne to hear what these V6 units sounds like. James, i’d invite you over to the Middlepark Hotel for a cold one after final qualifying but I think you might have your hands full. Good luck to all the teams for the 2015 season.


Seems unlikely VDG would actually expect any acceptance and support from the team if he wins a drive thru court action. Surely the most likely scenario is that he wants a deal /payout to compensate him and his sponsors for Sauber defaulting on their contract with him and his sponsors.

Behind closed doors he’s probably asking for a chunk of the approx $15M Sauber is reported to be receiving from each of their new drivers, and using his court victories as leverage.


Its money that Sauber doesnt have. I think that where the root of the problem lies. Giedo might be wanting to have his contract payed off, however Sauber cant afford that. Therefore Giedo is claiming his race seat which is his right.

Sauber is in a big mess now.


I would think part of GVG need to drive this year is to keep his super license (and said SL should mean he is perfectly capable of driving in AUS despite Sauber’s insistence of a safety issue). He was a reserve drive last year and if he doesn’t drive this year, I’m curious if would he lose the points he has towards keeping his license?

The other issue, by keeping him under contract, it prevented him from negotiating with other teams for a race seat. They took and used his money in exchange for driving this year. Sauber made a mess, and they deserve every bit of blowback they get.


I don’t doubt that van der Garde has a strong case, although I am somewhat sceptical that he will get his way. One thing is to force Sauber to run Guido in Melbourne, but how can an Australian court force a Swiss team to run a certain driver at, say, Monza or Spa? The Australian legal system does not have any jurisdiction over Italy or Belgium.

But whatever the legal rights and wrongs of this case, my sympathy is with Sauber and the two drivers they have already signed up for this season. It isn’t right that they should be forced to demote either Ericsson or Nasr to accommodate someone they clearly don’t want. Imagine a premier league football team having not only to employ a player but to select him in the starting eleven every week because a Bulgarian court said so?


Very relevant comment and question? Are they forced to let him drive? You want the strongest team on the ground at the moment. The team must have rights to decide who they put in their car in regards to how they want to play it.


The judge never said say that Sauber must let GVD drive in other races. That is up to the courts in those countries if GVD applies to those courts to enforce the Swiss arbitration award which essentially said that Sauber can’t stop him from driving for them. The judge’s decision is on the court’s website. Check it out. In a nutshell, all the judge did was to say that Sauber must abide by the Swiss arbitration award in Australia.

Michael Snijders

It is not about accomating a new driver. It is about respecting a contract with an existing driver. I agree, the other two drivers aren’t to blame and it isn’t right for them. But for Sauber, they willfuly ignored the court in their own country because the race isn;t in Switserland. To expand on your analogy.Imagine a premier league team not wanting to put a player on the field with whom they have a contract that he will get to play each match.Then they have a match in Bulgaria and ignore the contract and fire the player, because they feel English laws do not apply to an English team once they are in Bulgaria. Now you see what Saber did?


you mean the “four” drivers they have already signed up for this season



What planet are you on.

VDG paid money to Sauber for his race seat and they reneged on a contract.

The Swiss court decided in VDG favour and the Aussie court are merely upholding that decision, which what all courts world wide will do!


Sympathy for Sauber? GVDG has a valid contract, the amount of sympathy Subaer is being afforded in here highlights the lack of any clue about how contracts work. Sauber is run by a crook of Indian decent. you don’t need to look further than the 2G scams in India. Corrupt Indian politicians and businessmen/women have brought disrepute to that country. This Monisha character is no different and now we see the outcome.

Peter Suaber needs to oust her and entourage immediately before further damage is done to the team’s reputation.

BTW the court just threw out the appeal, pretty much what was expected. All power to GVDG.


James/Justin, do you think that, if Sauber are obliged to run Van der Garde, this will be a landmark ruling for the sport?

There’s been quite a lot of criticism of the team in the comments, which in many ways is justified. However, I think that we as fans can sometimes be naive about the extent to which F1 as a whole operates within its own rules. I remember being mildly shocked when I heard the story that Ferrari allegedly paid Sauber the outstanding amount of Nico Hulkenberg’s contract to stop him signing a short-term deal with (Ferrari’s rivals) Lotus in 2013…and then wondering about the naivete of my reaction. Similarly, I imagine it’s happened more than once in the past that a team has dropped a driver, through financial necessity (as it would appear in this case) or sometimes otherwise, despite a contract being in place. As I write this, I remember 2011, when it was felt that Tonio Liuzzi had a watertight contract with Force India but the team still turfed him for Paul di Resta. Will this ruling, if enforced (i.e. appeal rejected), be a game-changer in the way driver contracts are handled from the midfield down?


It’s interesting and the role of the Contract Recognition Board has to be asked

I question whether he will get a Superlicence awarded by FIA, he cannot drive without one


If he doesn’t get his licence fast-tracked, surely that will just delay the problem by a couple of weeks. If van der Garde files the same suit in a Malaysian court and wins the team will have the same problem.


That will be interesting indeed. If the licence is not granted, the driver will almost certainly take the FIA to the CAS, or possibly a civil court (unlike the Sauber case so far, this would really touch employment laws, and European courts have shown that they are not prepared to leave these matters to the sporting bodies, be it transfer rules or doping bans).

Of course, this process would buy time for Sauber and protect the team against any claims by the driver, but the FIA should remember its obligation not only for the F1 teams, but for the sport in general. Withholding a licence on questionable grounds would damage the sport much more widely.

kenneth chapman

@ james…apparently charlie whiting has said that it may not be a problem.


Has he not raced in F1 before?


I think this not as complicated as people might think.

Sauber signed Nasr and Ericsson and kicked out v.d.Garde and Sutil who had valid contracts solely to save the team. I don’t think that they had any choice at this point in time: Breach contracts or go bust. The court now ruled that v.d.Garde has a valid contract. What will Sauber do?

I think they will simple breach his contract and bear the consequences (most likely a huge fine), because that would most likely still be cheaper than Nasrs or Ericssons sponsores pulling out.

It would be interesting to read what the FIA Contract Recognition Board has to say about this, usually they should be involved when something like that happens.

Interestingly it’s a little bit of history repeating for v.d.Garde, who had that situation the other way round, when in 2007 he first signed a contract with Super Aguri, just to sign another one with Spyker. The FIA CRB did not handle that case directly, as it wasn’t asked by the teams to handle it, but v.d.Garde wasn’t given a super license as a result.


More likely Sauber’s assets will be seized than a fine.


CRB is primarily to resolve issues between teams and regardless cant over rule a court of law.

I think if they continue to breach the contract Monisha and others will find themselves in contempt of court. Also each additional breach will continue to add to a compensation judgments as Sauber do more and more damage to van der Gardes reputation and prospects as a professional racing driver.

This dispute feels much different to others in the past and may turn out quite differently.

van der Gardes backers have deep pockets. It will be interesting to see how they play this.


Maybe Sauber will rotate the drivers throughout the year?

What a messed-up situation the team has found themselves in.

Peter Sauber must be shaking his head on this one.


If they survive this clusterF you can bet Sauber will be using different contract lawyers from now on. Possibly people that actually *read them.


Monisha is a lawyer and she is responsible for this FUBAR and she is looking pretty stupid right now.


A lot of comments having a go at Sauber here, with the words ‘unethical’ and ‘arrogant’ used. I’m not sure I agree. First of all while this judgement says they are in breach of contract, there are clear and well-known reasons why they could not fulfill the contract. Secondly, while Sauber may be accused of acting cynically by ignoring Van der Garde’s contract, equally he may be accused of the same by launching legal action on the eve of the first GP when there is little time to properly settle the case and when the clear motive is to generate publicity rather than actually get his seat. And for all those who are tut-tutting at Sauber, I’d like to know what they would have done in a situation where the business is on the brink and the cost of doing a deal with someone who can save the day is to break the deal with someone else. We’d all like to think we’re morally and ethically perfect, but it’s not quite so easy to be so when the future of a business and its employees is on the line.

I’m a big fan of van der Garde as a driver and was disappointed to hear he’d not got the Sauber seat. But I’m not sure he’s portraying himself in a much better light than he his Sauber.


Firstly, re “clear and well-known reasons why they could not fulfill the contract”.

Sauber had their opportunity to present these in court and apparently failed, so I think this comment is incorrect.

Secondly. ” the clear motive is to generate publicity rather than actually get his seat”.

I disagree. I think his motive is purely to get his seat. What value would there be in the publicity?

Thirdly, “I’d like to know what they would have done in a situation where the business is on the brink and the cost of doing a deal with someone who can save the day is to break the deal with someone else.”

I would not break the law. Are you suggesting that if I am strapped for cash, I should just not pay my taxes. Try that and get away with it without going bankrupt.


There may be financial reasons why you would’nt want to honour the contrat but they are no reason for Sauber not to fulfill the contract.

As for taking legal action on the eve of the GP, the court case was lodged in November last year!!!!


Here’s an interesting thought should the appeal uphold early decisions and Sauber decide to ignore it and race with Nasr and Ericssion. If one or both Saubers make it to the chequered flag could other teams who finish below them protest the result, due to their driver line up possibly being in voilation of a court ruling.

roberto marquez

If he was a driver with Hamilton or Alonso s potential he would be a Sauber driver. I don t think any F1 owner will put a driver in a seat just because he has sponsors, there is a lot more to running a F1 team besides the bussiness itself,like pride and a hunger to win. I am no fan of Maldonado ,and I am from Venezuela ,but he has already won a GP and there are drivers who spend years in the circuits and never get in a podium. So I will side with Sauber. And regarding Guido he will be lucky if anybody puts him into a go kart from now on.


>>If he was a driver with Hamilton or Alonso s potential he would be a Sauber driver

Ehhh… NO.

He would be a Mercedes or other top tier team driver.


Are you mad?

There are a long list of teams who have put “pay” drivers in their cars!!!!!!!!!!!!!


There is a long list!


Who’d you see in the car over the weekend James?


Nasr and Ericsson


Don’t you think that VDG will block their attempt to have Nasr & Ericsson driving the cars?

AFAIK he has the ability of blocking Sauber participation this weekend with this ruling, and i would be surprised if he does not follow through.

So my prediction is that Nasr and VDG will drive or that Sauber won’t start at all.

kenneth chapman

@ james…was your comment post the rejection of the final appeal? if sauber refuse to allow VDG a drive, commensurate with is last minute receipt of a superlicense renewal, it appears as though sauber will be in contempt and face not being able to race at all!

sauber evidently are to legally bound to supply a list of assets/equipment by 10.00am on friday subject to a court order. what then?


I don’t see how that can happen at this point James. Unless Bernie gets involved overnight here in Oz, it looks like either he gets to drive or the teams assets here get seized and someone gets arrested for contempt of court. I believe the technical term is “a rock and a hard place”.


Bold statement given the ruling this morning James.

How will they buy VDG off or will they ignore court ruling?


Isn’t it sad that big companies like sauber f1,lotus f1 and similar sized teams with marketing departments aren’t able to find the sponsorship that these young drivers and their patrons are able to source?


Absolutely correct. This is a fundamental problem in the F1 structure.

How on earth can van der garde, Ericsson or Nasr be more marketable than Sauber?


This is really a common case for a struggling team.

Remember Manor/Marussia STILL owes payment to Glock after his contract was broken in a winter 2 years ago! Also, 2 years after Trulli’s contract was broken by Caterham in a winter test,he had to sue Caterham to gain his payment…..

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