Sauber settles contract dispute with ex-driver Van der Garde
Former Sauber test driver Giedo van der Garde says he has settled his contract dispute with the team for ''significant compensation'' while accepting his Formula One career is effectively over.
Van der Garde had a deal to be one of the team's race drivers this season, but Sauber did not honor it, and legal judgments in Switzerland and last week in Australia before the season-opening race supported the Dutchman's claims.
He said on his Facebook page on Wednesday that the compensation meant ''my rights have finally been recognized and that at least some justice has been done,'' but said he was ''sad and disappointed'' that his F1 ambitions are over, and still bewildered at Sauber's decision-making.
''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,'' Van der Garde said. ''This dream has been taken away from me, and I know that my future in Formula 1 is probably over.''
The settlement ends a long-running dispute that was a dramatic backdrop to the start of the season last weekend in Melbourne, Australia.
Having received the backing of a Swiss employment tribunal, Van der Garde took his case to the local Supreme Court of the state of Victoria, where he won the initial hearing and Sauber's appeal.
Pressing his claims further, Van der Garde filed contempt of court charges against the team for not immediately facilitating his installation as a driver in Australia. These charges threatened to impound the team's equipment and possibly lead to the detention of team principal Monisha Kaltenborn.
He finally agreed to drop that action, allowing drivers Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson to compete in Melbourne, where the team put in a surprisingly strong performance, with the cars finishing fifth and eighth.
Van der Garde said on Wednesday he dropped that contempt of court case because it would have ''wrecked'' the team's weekend, and hurt Nasr and Ericsson most of all.
''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,'' Van der Garde said.
His career supported through his billionaire father-in-law, he said his sponsor forwarded money to the team during 2014 for a 2015 drive.
''Effectively, it was my sponsor's advanced payments that helped the team survive in 2014,'' Van der Garde said.
''Sauber's financial decision-making in this case is bizarre, and makes no sense to me.''
He said his experience ''will serve as an example to illustrate what should change, and that new regulations will be implemented to help protect driver rights.''
''There are numerous examples of talented drivers with good intentions, but without the sort of professional support that I have had, who have been broken by Formula 1, and who have seen their careers destroyed.''
He said he will pursue opportunities in sports cars and touring cars.