Tag Archives: Sauber

No licence for van der Garde as Sauber faces seizure of cars

It seems that time is running out for Giedo van der Garde in his quest for a superlicence, and there is now virtually no chance that he will have one granted today and thus be able to drive the Sauber.

As previously noted, one of the steps is that the Contracts Recognition Board has to approve legal aspects of a driver’s deal with a team. Monisha Kaltenborn wrote to the CRB last week to claim that the contract had been terminated, but despite the court rulings it seems that Sauber has not written to the CRB to reactivate the contract. That puts a stop to any attempt to fast track a licence through.

While the original Swiss arbitration ruling is evidence on van der Garde’s behalf that the contract is still valid, clearly it will take time for the CRB to make a call.

The next step is a court hearing at 1030 today in which Sauber could be found in contempt of court if Justice Croft deems that the team has not complied with his order and taken appropriate steps to put van der Garde in the car.

The CRB issue would seem to suggest a clear breach – so if this morning’s judgement goes against the team the judge can call for the team’s “assets in Australia” – its cars and equipment – to be seized by bailiffs. Given the timings this could even happen before the start of FP1 at 1230, which would mean no Saubers on track this weekend.

There is also potential for personal action against Kaltenborn as a director of the team.

This might not be a lucky Friday the 13th for the Swiss outfit…


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No issues with my superlicence, says Van der Garde

While the wheels of the court process continue to turn the practicalities of Giedo van der Garde driving a Sauber this weekend have come into focus.

One of the biggest question marks concerns his superlicence, as the FIA has a process that has to be followed. The team has to apply via the driver’s national sporting authority, and Sauber has failed to do that.

Also one of the conditions is that the Contracts Recognition Board is happy with the legal side. It was revealed in court today that Monisha Kaltenborn wrote to the CRB last week to tell them that Van der Garde’s contract had been terminated in February.

Unusually this letter came after the Swiss arbitration court judgement which is at the centre of this week’s proceedings, and which said that the Dutchman should drive. In effect that contract now has to be re-activated at the CRB, and any delay at this critical stage helps Sauber to stop van der Garde driving. A cynic might suggest that contacting the CRB last week was a clever tactic by the team…

Meanwhile it remains to be seen how cooperative the FIA will be. There have been instances in the past where superlicence applications have been rushed through in cases of force majeure.

Van der Garde remains confident that his superlicence can be fast tracked.

“I think so, it’s just a bit of paperwork now,” he told this writer after today’s court proceedings. “And Sauber has to help in filing it. So we’ll see in the next few hours what comes out. The good thing is it’s now early in Europe, so they’ll start working, and still have a whole day. That’s positive.”

He has already set the wheels in motion with the Dutch authorities – the KNAF – who are ready to help.

“Yeah, we’re pushing already for the last few days. Everything is in place, everything is there, the application. I don’t see any issues with the paperwork on my side. Sauber just has to push it.”

Regarding his seat he said: “I don’t see any issue with it. Even if they don’t have my [2014] seat there, it’s done very quickly, in three hours you have a foam seat. I think the mechanics they know very well how to do it, so I don’t see any issue with that.”


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Van der Garde case drags into Thursday as Sauber appeal continues

The Giedo van der Garde v Sauber case will drag into Thursday after Sauber submitted an appeal.

This morning Justice Croft handed down a judgement in favour of Van der Garde, in effect demanding that Sauber put him in the car. He also noted that it “applies to the whole of the 2015 Formula 1 season – not just in relation to the coming few days in Melbourne for the Australian GP.”

Sauber then submitted an appeal which led to a hurriedly convened Court of Appeal hearing this afternoon, presided over by Justices Beach, Whelan and Ferguson.

They hadn’t had much time to learn about the case and were not very familiar with the way F1 works, and after a brief discussion, mainly involving Sauber’s lawyer Rodney Garrett, they decided to await submissions from those involved and reconvene at 9.30am on Thursday.

That delay starts to make things even more complicated in terms of getting van der Garde fully prepared to drive should the Swiss team finally accept that it has no choice.

Garrett repeated his safety arguments today – on the basis that it takes two weeks to get a driver fitted for the car.

The judges were intrigued to know how the sport is governed, and were told it was by the FIA. In response to the discussion about safety, the judges made the point that whatever they decided might be irrelevant if the FIA wasn’t happy.

Justice Whelan made a logical suggestion to Garrett: “I don’t really understand why the FIA can’t come along and tell us what the situation is regarding safety.”

Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr were represented in court, their lawyer noting that “My clients are expecting to drive. However neither driver, nor anyone from Sauber, was present in person.

Thursday could be a long day as the judges decided that those representing Van der Garde will have two hours to state their case, those representing Ericsson and Nasr half an hour, and Sauber one and a half hours.


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Giedo van der Garde Q&A: “I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel…”

Giedo van der Garde’s victory in a Melbourne court today was an extraordinary outcome, and one that the Sauber team itself has admitted it didn’t expect. The fact is that the Australian legal system has backed up a judgement made in Switzerland last week and told Sauber that Van der Garde should race. How that impacts Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr, and what happens over the next 48 hours remains, to be seen. This writer had an exclusive chat with the Dutchman on the steps of the courthouse.

Q: This applies to Australia, but what about the other 18 countries?

“I think this is something else that the lawyers have to speak about and solve it. I’m just looking forward to start this weekend. Like I said before I had a very good relationship with the team, and I still have. I think the team made a very good step during the winter. I’m glad about it, I’m looking forward to working together again, and to do well this weekend.”

Q: You say you have a good relationship but it’s going to be a very strange atmosphere. Everyone’s wondering how a team can work with a driver they were fighting in court?

“I don’t see any problems because in the end we had a good year last year, not only the results [of testing], on a personal side it was very good. I don’t see any problems with it. On the other hand now we have to stick together, put our heads in the same direction, and push very hard to get our first points.”

Q: A lot of people don’t realise that you only found out about Felipe Nasr after the press release came out in Brazil last year. How bad was that?

“Well, I think it’s not a good thing to speak about it now. I’m happy with this news and I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel again. It’s been a while, so let’s focus on that.”

Q: And all that stuff about the seat and so on – obviously that can be sorted quickly.

“I think you know and other people know that it can be sorted out quite quickly. In three or four hours you’re done with the seat, and you have a proper seat for the weekend.”

Q: The team’s argument was that it needed the drivers with the biggest sponsorship, and the future was under threat. That’s obviously the bigger story, isn’t it?

“Well that has been discussed already, and in the end this went off from the table. I’m happy to win this case now. Let’s focus on the weekend.”

Q: And it’s important that in a case like this a driver has actually won? We’ve seen similar case in the past…

“Oh yeah, I’m happy with that…”


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Sauber: Risk of “physical harm or even death” if Van der Garde races

Sauber has used the issue of safety in its desperate fight to stop Giedo van der Garde from racing its car in the Australian GP.

The team has been in a court case in Melbourne today. Van der Garde won an arbitration judgement in Switzerland last week, and in essence the case is about that judgement being upheld in Australia.

As reported by Radio Australia, Sauber’s lawyer Rodney Garrett said that Van der Garde was not covered by the team’s insurance and brought up the question of safety of spectators at the event. He claimed that the C34 was custom built for Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson, and there were issues about seats and seat belts.

Garrett said: “Sauber could not allow him to race… it would be reckless and dangerous to do otherwise. It would result in an unacceptable risk of physical harm or even death.”

Readers may recall that in 2011 Pedro de la Rosa stepped into the Sauber on Friday lunchtime in Montreal after Sergio Perez was declared unfit…

Drivers jumping into cars with no testing and compromised seats is part of F1. It might concern the FIA that a team has chosen to link it to safety – and even death – in a court of law.

The judgement has been deferred until 10am on Wednesday.


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Kaltenborn on Van der Garde: “We will take all necessary steps…”

The case will be heard in Melbourne on Monday

Monday is a holiday in Australia but the court will open especially to hear the case

Sauber says that it will defend the court action launched by Giedo van der Garde in the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Van der Garde is hoping that the Australian court will force Sauber to follow a recent arbitration ruling in Switzerland, and allow him to race. The case will be heard on Monday.

“As this matter is currently before the courts it would be inappropriate for me to comment on specific details,” said team boss Monisha Kaltenborn. “However, we will take all necessary steps to protect our company, this team and its interests.

“Last year was a challenging time for us but going into the 2015 season we have been focused on putting steps in place to ensure that we are delivering the best outcomes for F1’s fans.”

In its statement the team explained the Swiss court decision – and spelled van der Garde’s name incorrectly: “In a first partial award of a Swiss arbitral tribunal, the application of Mr van der Garde was upheld, with the tribunal relevantly ordering Sauber to refrain from taking action the effect of which would be to deprive Guido van der Garde of his entitlement to participate in the 2015 Formula One season as one of Sauber’s two nominated race drivers. Mr van der Garde has this week brought an application before an Australian court in Melbourne, the city hosting the first Grand Prix of the 2015 season on Sunday, March 15, to enforce that arbitral award. next week, March 9.”


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Van der Garde’s quest for Sauber seat to reach Australian court on Monday

Monday is a holiday in Australia but the court will open especially to hear the case

Monday is a holiday in Australia but the court will open especially to hear the case

Giedo van der Garde has launched a dramatic last minute legal effort to recover the Sauber race seat that he believes is rightfully his.

The Dutchman has commenced an arbitration action in the Supreme Court of Victoria and is hoping that a positive result could force Sauber to put him back in the car. In essence he wants the Australian court to support a legal decision made in Switzerland in his favour earlier this week.

The joint applicants are the Dutch management company that bears his name, and Van der Garde personally. The case will be heard by Justice Croft in Melbourne on Monday, despite it being a public holiday in Australia.

Van der Garde’s backers paid a substantial sum for him to be third driver last year on the basis that he would graduate to a race seat this season – in theory alongside Adrian Sutil, who had an ongoing two-year contract.

However, late in the season both Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr came on the scene with bigger sponsorship deals, and Sauber opted to take them instead.

Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn, a lawyer by profession, has always insisted that the team is on solid legal ground. Nevertheless van der Garde has continued to prepare for this season as if he was going to race.

Court papers submitted on his behalf indicate that Van der Garde signed a ‘driving, testing and promotional services agreement’ on January 20th 2014, and that on June 28th Sauber exercised a contractual option which meant that he would be a race driver in 2015.

After the team had announced Ericsson and Nasr, on November 24 van der Garde commenced an arbitration proceeding in the Swiss Chambers’ Arbitration Institution. In it he “sought permanent injunctive relief that would have the effect of assuring the Second Applicant a place as a race driver on the Sauber team for 2015.”

A decision, or ‘Award’, was made by the SCAI in favour of the driver on March 2.

The Australian documents note that as a result: “The Respondent [Sauber] was ordered to refrain from taking any action the effect of which would be to deprive Mr van der Garde of his entitlement to participate in the 2015 Formula One Season as one of Sauber’s two nominated race drivers.”

Officially the Australian case is an ‘Application to Enforce Foreign Award,’ ie the judgement made in Switzerland.

The documents add that failing to officially nominate van der Garde as a race driver represents “an intention to breach, if not an actual breach, of the Award by the Respondent.”

Although the language is convoluted the documents hint that there has at least been a discussion between the parties about what happens next: “… since the Award was handed down on 2 March 2015, the Applicants have made several attempts to engage with the Respondent in relation to the Second Respondent’s participation as a driver in the 2015 Grand Prix season (including at the Australian Grand Prix) and the Respondent’s representatives have indicated that the Respondent is considering its position in the light of the Award.”

The bottom line is that the case represents a matter of survival for Sauber, in that the team took the two drivers with the biggest budgets in order to ensure that it made it into the 2015 season. If the Australian court does force it to take van der Garde at the expense of one of the other drivers, the situation could become very messy.

Van der Garde was previously involved in a legal action with Force India, relating to his time as a test driver for the former Spyker team.


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