Former Formula One driver Giedo van der Garde has won a court case against Sauber F1 Team in Australia today. The Dutchman launched a case against the team for unfair dismissal after the Sauber team elected to sign Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr as their 2015 race drivers. Van der Garde had been the team’s reserve driver last year, but was released from his contract in favour of the new line-up.
Van der Garde’s demands were to be placed in the driving seat of the Sauber for the Australian Grand Prix which takes place this weekend, starting with practice on Friday.
“I’m very fit and very strong,” said Van der Garde, “I’m looking forward to going back to the team and we’ll work hard to do our best for this weekend. I’m the fittest ever, I’ve been training the last three months flat out, and I’m looking forward to going back to the team. I had a very good relationship, I still have a very good relation with the team. I’m looking forward to racing this weekend. I’m happy that we won the case, and that we stand here. Now I’m looking forward to getting back to business.”
Sauber’s representatives argued at the hearing on Monday at the Supreme Court of Victoria, Melbourne, that there would be fundamental issues regarding safety if the Dutchman was drafted in to race at such short notice:
“Sauber could not allow him to race… it would be reckless and dangerous to do otherwise,” said Rodney Garratt QC, “It would result in an unacceptable risk of physical harm or even death.”
The team also argued that there wasn’t enough time for them to prepare the car for Van der Garde in terms of a new seat fitting and other aspects. These claims were refuted by Van der Garde’s representative, Tom Clarke:
“Teams are very flexible to make adjustments for every specific driver,” said Tom Clarke, “Sauber does have the ability to substitute Mr Van der Garde this weekend for one or another driver without falling into breach of those existing contracts,”
Today, in a session that lasted just under a quarter of an hour, the decision was made public that Van der Garde has won his case against Sauber, with the team now under obligation to have Van der Garde in the cockpit this weekend. It is not yet known which driver will step aside for Van der Garde.
It is also understood that Sauber’s 2014 race driver Adrian Sutil will be taking his own legal action in the near future.