Van der Garde reaches settlement with Sauber

By on Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Sauber F1 Team

Sauber F1 Team

Giedo van der Garde has confirmed that his contract with Sauber has been cancelled by mutual consent after the parties agreed a settlement deal.

Van der Garde had taken Sauber to court ahead of the Australian Grand Prix and judges ruled in his favour that he held a valid 2015 race contract.

But Sauber denied him the right to race and after lengthy talks van der Garde says a deal has been reached, though he criticised the behaviour of the Swiss squad.

"We have reached a settlement with Sauber and my driver contract with the team has been ended by mutual consent," van der Garde said in a statement.

"As a passionate race driver, I feel sad and am very disappointed. I have worked very hard my entire career, ever since starting with go-karts at the age of eight, to live my dream and become a successful Formula One driver.

"I had hoped at last to be able to show what I am capable of, driving a car for a respected midfield team in the 2015 season. This dream has been taken away from me and I know that my future in Formula One is probably over.

"I had a valid driver contract for the entire 2015 season and enforceable rights to it. I pushed very hard until last Saturday in Melbourne to get the drive that I was entitled to. This legal process started in 2014 and has taken a great deal of effort. It was never a last minute thing, but it only became public in the last week when we tried to force the team to accept the rulings of a succession of legal authorities and courts.

"I am a race driver and all I want is to race. However, the team principal [Monisha Kaltenborn] was adamant not to let me drive, notwithstanding my legal rights to do so and a series of rulings and court orders in my favour and despite my race driving abilities. I will never understand this. I could have persisted, but the team principal had taken a decision contrary to my contract that she would not work with me and this became painfully clear in the paddock in Melbourne.

"To push on against this determination might have brought down the team, it would most certainly have wrecked the opening Grand Prix in Melbourne because the team's cars would have been seized by the court, it may have ruined the careers of two young drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. Possibly the team's directors would even be taken into custody. I decided I did not want to live with that idea, even though it was only the team’s management that was responsible for the bizarre situation I found myself in.

"I am very grateful to my fans and many friends in Formula One who have given me a lot of support during the last couple of months. This period has been very difficult for me especially since I could not talk to anybody about the pending proceedings. Last week, many drivers on the grid gave me their support and several of them did so openly in the media as well. The same goes for several leading figures in the paddock who include team bosses and reputable former Formula One drivers. I thank them as well.

"My future in motorsport has not finished: on the contrary, I see this as a new beginning. I will sit down with my management in the coming weeks to discuss my future plans. I would love to take part in the WEC and the Le Mans 24 Hours in an LMP1 car. Former Formula 1 drivers do very well in this series. We also have our eye on other series such as the DTM in 2016 and beyond."

Van der Garde added that he had paid money up front in good faith, with the financial injection keeping Sauber alive.

"There has been a lot of speculation in the media over the past week, so I want to set out clearly that my sponsors paid the sponsorship fee related to the 2015 season in its entirety to Sauber in the first half of 2014. This was simply in good faith and to help the team deal with its cash problems at the time. Effectively, it was my sponsor’s advanced payments that helped the team survive in 2014.

"Sauber’s financial decision-making in this case is bizarre and makes no sense to me. I am not at liberty to discuss details, but Sauber paid significant compensation to avoid honouring the contract they had with me. Only in that respect can I be satisfied that my rights have finally been recognised and that at least some justice has been done."


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