Sauber lose appeal after court rules Giedo van der Garde should race
Court declares that Dutchman has binding contract to race this year
By Sky Sports Digital
Last Updated: 16/03/15 2:12pm
An Australian court has upheld its ruling that Giedo van der Garde must race for Sauber in the season-opening Australian GP.
After a two-day hearing, the Supreme Court of Victoria ruled on Wednesday that the Dutchman was entitled to drive for the team in the upcoming season.
Sauber's appeal against the verdict has been dismissed less than 24 hours before the first session of the new campaign, seemingly leaving the cash-strapped team with no option but to drop one of either Marcus Ericsson or Felipe Nasr - both of whom bring much needed sponsorship money to the Swiss outfit - in order to accomodate Van der Garde.
The 29-year-old has sought an enforcement order from the court to ensure Sauber comply with the verdict.
“The conditions set down by Melbourne’s Supreme Court are pretty clear – they say Sauber must run van der Garde as a driver and must do nothing to obstruct him in his right to race for the team," reported Sky Sports News HQ's Craig Slater.
“Van der Garde has taken out a new order in the court to make sure that this decision will be enforced, it personally mentions Monisha Kaltenborn, the team principal, and mentions contempt of court as well.
“So it is a lose-lose situation for Sauber as one of their other drivers, Nasr or Ericsson, will have to step aside to allow van der Garde into the car. As a result of that one of them would sue Sauber as they would have had their contract breached. It's a very difficult situation Sauber find themselves in."
It's understood that Van der Garde doesn't currently possess the mandatory FIA superlicence which all drivers must hold if they are to participate in an official F1 session.
“During court proceedings Sauber’s lawyer said it would take two weeks to obtain such a licence for van der Garde and therefore it wasn’t practical for him to race here, " confirmed Slater. "Van der Garde’s lawyers say a temporary licence can obtained in a matter of hours, maybe a day or so and sources within the FIA have backed that up.
Sauber are yet to comment on the ruling.
“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," said Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn in response to Wednesday's original verdict.
"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 will have to nominate their two race drivers for the Australian GP when their cars pass through scrutineering in the Melbourne paddock on Thursday, although alterations can still be made thereafter.
Van der Garde served as test driver for Sauber last year after being axed by Caterham and claimed he was offered a race seat for this season in June 2014.
He had already taken his case to the Arbitration Institution in Switzerland, which ruled that Sauber should retain him.
Sauber’s lawyer argued in court that allowing Van der Garde to race would be "reckless and dangerous" given his lack of testing and would put other drivers and support staff at an "unacceptable" risk.
But that argument was rejected by Justice Clyde Croft in Melbourne on Wednesday, who said: "The application is successful and will be enforced."
The court also suggested that the ruling allowing Van der Garde to race "applies to the whole of the 2015 Formula 1 season" and not just this weekend.
The Swiss team opted not to retain any of their 2014 line-up, with Ericsson and Nasr replacing Adrian Sutil and Esteban Guterriez as the race drivers and Raffaele Marciello taking the reserve role.