A new spirit of collaboration marked the discussions happening between the Sauber Formula One team and driver Giedo van der Garde after yesterday's court proceedings. Van der Garde submitted a Contempt of Court application after Sauber failed to secure him a drive, but that matter has been settled out of court.
The Contempt of Court application was submitted to hold the Sauber F1 team responsible for their inaction after being ordered to give Van der Garde a race drive this year. Van der Garde was originally contracted to drive for Sauber in 2015, however, Sauber went with two drivers who brought more funding with them instead: Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson. Courts ruled that Van der Garde's contract was still valid, forcing him and the team to find some way to work it out.
Neither party wanted to see Sauber drop from the grid, however, perhaps it took the threat of asset seizure (where all the Sauber cars and team equipment could be stuck in Australia indefinitely) and either fines or jail time for Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn to get Sauber and Van der Garde talking again. Both of those items were major threats posed if the courts had found the team in Contempt of Court.
However, according to man-on-the-ground Adam Cooper, when the teams met at 10:00 AM AEST Saturday morning to continue the court proceedings for this matter, Van der Garde's lawyer asked to drop the Contempt of Court application immediately. The matter had been settled overnight between the two parties.
As for what was determined exactly, no details have been released yet. However, we are glad to see that the two parties came to an agreement and that the two Sauber cars will remain on the grid for this weekend's race and beyond.
What does the Contempt of Court application being withdrawn mean? While it means that no one is going to jail, it also means that the prior judgements in Van der Garde's favor that state how he has a right to drive the car still stand, according to the Supreme Court of Victoria.
Based on this, Van der Garde either found a way to get drive time in with the team or he was given an equivalent reward (big ol' piles of money, for example) in exchange for his lost seat.
Given Sauber's financial situation, Van der Garde getting an opportunity to drive the car seems more likely. We will keep an eye on this story as it develops to see if Van der Garde is succcessful in obtaining an F1 superlicense soon, find out who ends up in the car for the Australian and Malaysian Grands Prix, or discover if the agreement led to an entirely different outcome altogether.
UPDATE: Van der Garde will not be driving at the Australian Grand Prix, however, the two parties are working on a solution that is fair to all parties involved. While an agreement was made to withdraw the Contempt of Court application, the exact details regarding an agreement over Van der Garde's right to drive for Sauber are still in discussion.
Giedo Van der Garde released a full statement regarding this issue this morning on his Facebook page.
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