Discussions between the Giedo van der Garde camp and Sauber have no doubt been ongoing since Friday afternoon’s latest court hearing in Melbourne, and the hope on both sides is that an agreement can be reached overnight.
Van der Garde’s lawyer told the court that there had been “constructive discussions between the parties which are expected to continue this evening.”
The next step will occur when the court reconvenes at 9.30am on Saturday. If an agreement has been reached and both parties can satisfy the judge that everything has been sorted, that in theory should be the end of the matter, at least as far as the Melbourne weekend is concerned.
The big question is what form that agreement will take, as the problem of three drivers and two seats has not gone away. Logic suggests that the only realistic path would be a settlement which compensates van der Garde for forfeiting the seat. It’s common knowledge that his sponsors paid €8m for him to be a third driver last year as a lead in to a race seat in 2015, and any payment would presumably in effect represent a refund for that, possibly with some damages, legal costs and so on factored in on top.
As much as van der Garde genuinely wants to drive, there will be a point at which the figure offered by Sauber is sufficient for him to walk away from the team.
The big problem is of course that Sauber has long been in dire financial straits, and it simply doesn’t have a multi million sum sitting around. The van der Garde camp is obviously aware of that, and clearly would not sign up to any deal without receiving some form of guarantee or security. The obvious suspicion on their part would be that Sauber’s promises might not be backed up once the team escaped the clutches of the Australian legal system next week.
If no agreement can be reached by Saturday morning – and assuming van der Garde is not announced as a race driver for the rest of 2015 – then the likelihood is that the summons submitted by the Dutchman will be issued by the court. Sauber and Monisha Kaltenborn face charges of contempt of court.
On Friday Justice Croft mentioned an interim order, and that will probably mean that Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr are free to go ahead and compete for the rest of the weekend, but the cars would be seized by the court after the race, pending more court activity. An extra problem for Sauber is that the cars and equipment could miss the slot for the FOM cargo flight to Malaysia, and would potentially then have to find an alternative way to get there.
In addition action against Kaltenborn remains a real possibility, with the court having the power to seize her passport.
Despite the positive noises made by both sides on Friday, this story is far from over…
Details of the summons, including a call for Monisha Kaltenborn to be imprisoned, can be found here: https://adamcooperf1.com/2015/03/13/van-der-garde-side-requesting-prison-time-for-kaltenborn/