A curious legal action

Dutch F1 driver Giedo van der Garde is taking the Sauber team to court in Melbourne on Monday, claiming that he has been unfairly dismissed. The indications are that this is probably what happened, but there is a clear explanation as to why that was deemed to be necessary and while Van der Garde may not like the explanation, the team can argue that it was forced by circumstances to do it. What is not clear is what Van der Garde hopes to gain from this action. The team is set on running Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr and is obviously not keen to change from that path. If Van der Garde forces the team to take him on, he will have to fulfil the terms of the contract, which will mean paying a considerable sum of money to Sauber, so he is fighting a case in order to have the right to spend money and then race a car that he has not tested. That hardly makes sense.

The team could pay Van der Garde a settlement but it is not entirely clear – in legal terms – what Giedo has lost from the decision not to run him. He has not lost out financially because he was the one who would be paying (and that is presumably written into the contract that he signed). Van der Garde may claim damages but, as he was the one paying, it is hard to see how he will win anything financial from a court because arguments about damage to his reputation and career are not going to be very successful, given that he has always been seen in F1 circles as a pay-driver, even though he does do a decent solid job. It is hard, however, to argue that being dropped by Sauber would in any way materially affect his image and longterm prospects. That may sound harsh, but that is the way the law will look upon it.

The team had planned to run Van der Garde and Jules Bianchi, a Ferrari protege, in 2015 but Bianchi’s accident in Suzuka sidelined the Frenchman and resulted in the need for Sauber to change the entire arrangement. Thus the team did deals with Ericsson and Nasr and took on Raffaele Marciello as a test driver, to keep Ferrari happy. The decision was taken because the other drivers were paying more and the team will no doubt argue that this was necessary because Sauber was in danger of going out of business. It is believed that Ericsson’s deal involved an up front payment that was of vital importance to the team at the time. The whole thing could get pretty messy as Sauber might also point out that Giedo himself denied signing anything after the deal was done on June 28 last year, which would be true but also understandable.

One can understand that Van der Garde might be angry and that it upset his plans but one hopes that he has found a back-up plan in the interim and it would not be ridiculous to suggest that the reason we have heard nothing about the second drive at Manor Marussia is because it is being kept open for Giedo. There must be some reason that Max Chilton and Alexander Rossi have given up hope and signed deals elsewhere and there is no obvious reason to delay a decision about a driver who is being paid. If Van der Garde was named as a Manor Marussia driver before the case is heard he would have no case at all.

One might surmise from all of this that the legal action is not designed for anything other than to embarrass Sauber, which would be revenge for the team’s cynical, but some might say necessary, decision. All things considered it is hard to see what anyone has to gain from all of this.

One hopes that Giedo does have an agreement with Manor Marussia and that he will soon get back to racing.

98 thoughts on “A curious legal action

  1. Could giedo be getting payment/salary by taking some of the money he is taking to Sauber? If he isn’t racing he may not be able to take this money.

  2. Maybe it’s just a point of principal.

    I don’t want to see Sauber go out of business anymore than anyone else but if they made an agreement they should honour it or provide damages, even if those damages only amount to a public apology.

    Arguably a waste of time but then if F1 had more principled people in it maybe it wouldn’t be the mess it is.

  3. I unserstood that the case in Australia is to make the local justice enforce a desicion by the “Arbitration Institution” (Switzerland) which is supposed to have instructed Sauber to let VdGarde drive already.
    “The respondent (Sauber) was ordered to refrain from taking any action, the effect of which would be to deprive him of his entitlement to participate in the 2015 F1 season as one of Sauber’s two nominated race drivers.”

    One tought, if VdGarde would want to sue for damages for breach of contract, and decides to take his money and skills to Marussia now that an option is open there, might it make sense to take this action to “make sure” that there is no chance of Sauber “honouring the agreement” so as not to close his chances for financial settlement? OR even have Sauber sueing VdGarde instead for signing with Marussia?

  4. Joe, can it also be the case that he missed out on the Manor drive and actually tries to get on the grid like this?
    He did do a decent job and appeared to be professional and polite but this looks more like a child who is not getting his way.

    Although I would say that Sauber did not get any sympathy points by the way it handled this. It would help to get more insight to what is going on but that is not very likely to happen

  5. I hope Van der Garde’s legal people know how to read a calendar as is a public holiday here this coming Monday (9/3/15) in Melbourne. So it might be a bit hard to get their case to court on that day.

  6. I have a query. Where does a pay driver get his salary?

    If it is from sponsors, rather than the team, would it be dependent upon him being in an F1 car? Would he lose some sponsorship / income by not being in F1?

    If so, he may be seeking either a drive or compensation to gain a better personal income than if he went to an alternative series.

    Or am I way off here?

  7. Let see if I understand this correctly: a pay driver has his shorts in a knot because some else with more $$ came along…8-)

  8. I heard he kept his part of the deal. That probably means his sponsors paid Sauber. Otherwise he’d also be in breach of contract. Assuming the first installment had to be paid prior to today’s date.

    His sponsors probably want that money back then so they can pay for his seat over at Manor.

  9. Hasn’t he has issues over contracts before? I recall something occurring between him, Super Aguri & Spyker way back – 2007?

  10. As a pay driver, Van der Garde would have been buying a service. Sauber’s late cancellation meant that he couldn’t take his money to another service provider. So it is like having a hotel reservation when a resort is busy, only to find that the hotel has passed the room to another customer; you miss out on your holiday.

    Van der Garde was prepared to spend X million Euros to have some fun. That sum is his and Sauber’s agreed valuation of the service. Van der Garde has missed out on his fun so Sauber may have to pay some proportion of the agreed fee.

    Joe: “The whole thing could get pretty messy as Sauber might also point out that Giedo himself denied signing anything after the deal was done on June 28 last year…” Yes, that makes things muddy.

  11. I can only assume van der Garde had committed to paying Sauber $X Million, and had contracts in place with his own sponsors for a larger amount than that, allowing him to both pay for his drive, and run a profit on it.

    If so, then I can see why he’d be annoyed and might sue – getting sponsors onto a Sauber car is surely worth a lot more than sponsor logos on a Manor car?

  12. Maybe he needs the money from the pay-off by Sauber to get the Manor Marussia ride.

    And how about a Swiss court ruling that ordered Sauber to retain him. If Sauber does not, a pay off surely must be made?

  13. Only reason I could think of is that he loses part or all that sponsorship cash if he isn’t in F1.

  14. The Manor part sounds not logic at all and i think Manor is not aiming for a paydriver. Graham Lowden revealed today that their second driver will be some very quick young guy. First name that comes to my mind is Robin Frijns.

  15. If he managed to get himself back at Sauber, I think he’d get an even colder welcome than Maldonado’s last weeks at Williams.

  16. Surely his reputation and possibly sponorship deals are worth an amount of cash. As you say, obviously he cannot jump into the Sauber car in Australia, but perhaps he is looking at forcing them to use him later on in the season ?

  17. As more information comes to light it starts to make more sense.

    If GVDG’s backers had provided sponsorship money for the test role on the basis of him having a race seat the following year I can imagine they would be rightly angered by what had happened and therefore want Giedo to follow it up.

    By the sounds of it a Swiss court has already ruled in his favour and this is just a hearing to enforce that order in Australia. I imagine he has to do this to show an attempt to enforce. If Sauber ignore the Swiss courts ruling it will probably award Giedo damages from Sauber that can be given back to his backers or used to fund an actual race seat at Manor.

    Not good for a team with money worries but I can see where his backers are coming from.

  18. So Joe… if I sign a contract with you to buy your house… and we make a deal for 250.000 euro’s… and before I am ready to fork over the money, you sell the house again… to another person who offered more for the house… the deal is off and legal? And all is okay, because hey, I save 250.000 euro’s by not having to pay for the house?

    Really…

  19. History could have been very different!

    Quote from an interview with Marcel Boekhoorn, Guido van der Garde’s father in law and sponsor (net worth estimated @ 1.3 Bullion €).

    “Have you ever regretting letting a deal go?”

    ‘Let me think…. Yes, I know a good one. A few years ago I had the opportunity to buy the Honda Formula 1 team, but almost everyone around me said: ‘Mars, don’t do it. That’s a bad scene. You’ll come up dry.’ So I didn’t do it – against my own will and that of my daughter Denise (ed.: who is now married to F1 driver Giedo van der Garde). That was in 2009. And what happened? That team became world champion with Jenson Button! And it was sold that year to Mercedes for 350 million Euros. I could have bought it for nothing. I had that deal in my hands. I can show you the letter of intent.’

  20. Could it be that the investers of Giedo vd Garde also did a advanced payment for the 2015 campaign in order to secure the 2015 deal? And if this is the case, they want to get the money back asap?

    In that case Giedo vd Garde has a financial en ligitemed claim against Sauber. A court in Switserland already decided in favour of Giedo vd Garde and that he has a solid 2015 contract up hand. In that case the contract of Nasr has no legal base and could be used as toiletpaper instead.

    So I geuss that the investers backing Giedo already did a advanced payment, or else the whole case would be a waste of time and money.

  21. Revenge? I recently heard an explanation for the phrase “an eye for an eye…..” which this chap should perhaps take note of.

  22. Joe,

    I find your comment that vdg isn’t losing anything because he is a pay driver a bit strange.

    First of all a contract is a contract. Assuming he had one, sauber breaking the agreement means vdg should get some sort of settlement. Whether he was paying for the seat or not is irrelevant.

    He definitely will miss out of money because not driving in F1 will limit his exposure thus his ability to sell merchandise or attract new sponsors or attach his name to products.

    He might Also lose money because he might not find another seat and even if he does it would likely not give him the same exposure as at sauber so whatever the case he is set to lose money.

    Depending on the contract his sponsors might have lost money already. Maybe they paid extra in 2014 based on the promise that vdg would get a race seat in 2015 in he had an x amount of money available.

    Now that he is dropped, sponsors might have overpaid for 2014.

    Some of the above might me mitigated if he gets a seat at manor but that doesn’t change that a legal contract might have been broken and in that case as far as my limited knowledge goes that always results in somebody having to pay somebody.

    Gvd probably has an easier job claiming he lost money than sauber claiming he didn’t lose anything.

  23. One has to wonder why – if this is anything other than a malicious, spoiler attack on the team – he is filing suit now and in Melbourne.

    Surely, if his case actually has merit, it should have been filed in Switzerland last November? Or raised with the Contracts Recognition Board, if it still exists.

    The only outcome of this I can see is a few lawyers getting richer, the judge kicking the case out for being frivolous and/or outside his/her jurisdiction, and Giedo gaining a reputation for being whiny and petulant, which will probably take him out of consideration for any other drives no matter how much money he brings.

  24. “…Giedo himself denied signing anything after the deal was done on June 28 last year…”

    Maybe that is the reason for the court case, so that any earlier contract can be legally declared null and void so that he is free to sign for someone else.

    One must assume he has been advised to do this.

  25. The rumor in the Netherlands is that Giedo didn’t even got the chance to match the offer from Ericsson or Nasr. Maybe his sponsor was prepared to match those numbers…. after all his main sponsor is also his father in law. And his father in law has a bit of a vindictive streak to him so I wouldn’t be surprised if it is no longer about the money but just to show the world who is right and who is wrong. It’s not the first time this has been done by Marcel Boekhoorn…

    I wouldn’t be surprised that when both parties don’t budge on their point of view that it could mean the end of Sauber. One of their current drivers have to be told that they are no longer their driver and that must be compensated and Sauber can’t compensate that.

    1. Plus the fact that his father-in-law has deeper pockets than Sauber has, so he can afford a legal battle or two….

  26. He seems to have already won round 1 in the Swiss arbitration..

    Didn’t he sue Force India for the same claims in 2010?.

    1. Accord to one of the local papers in Australia he won his legal case in the Arbitration Institution in Switzerland, which ordered Sauber keep him on the team, He is seeking an enforcement of that decision in Melbourne.

  27. Maybe Manor/Marussia has already told him they do not want to have him drive for them in 2015, and he is suing Sauber because that is his only hope of driving in F1 this season?
    I would be slightly worried if I was Sauber. He has a 100% win record in F1-related litigation, having won a court case against Force India (nee Spyker) over his testing driver role with that team.

    1. The court case in Switzerland was started in November, last week Giedo heard that he won that court case and now he is asking the Australian government if they can force Sauber to uphold the ruling of the Swiss court. If the Australian government agree to uphold the decision by the Swiss court the most likely result will be that on Thursday Giedo will enter the track with the police to arrest Ms. Kaltenborn and anyone else from the team management that stands in the way of upholding the court order. And even if somehow the team manages to have both Nasr and Ericsson race in the Australian GP the team will never leave Australia, the police won’t let them, and Sauber will probably miss Malaysia.

      No matter what happens the only way I can see Sauber survive all this is if they either have van der Garde in the car, which I think is very unlikely, or if Sauber manages to come to an amicable agreement about how to continue. Seeing how feisty Miss Kaltenborn has reacted to questions about this court case by reporters I’m afraid this may be the last race Sauber races in F1.

      1. If will be interesting to see if the Australian authorities react. They only seem interested in persecuting minorities. Their track record at recognising International law is poor, so I would be surprised if they acknowledged a Swiss ruling. Guess it would come down to what they could gain from it, which I’m thinking would be zilch.

      2. I can only concur with your asstute comment, a contract is legally binding between both parties and it also stops Mr van der Garde from pursuing alternative drives.
        Even if Sauber have appealed the Swiss courts decision, the appeal process stops Mr van der Garde from seeking any employment elsewhere. Since the Swiss Court has upheld that the contract is legally binding, Mr van der Garde is in the eyes of the law employed by Sauber as a full time driver. Changing continents does not alter ones’ legal status.

  28. Who knows but maybe there was an upfront payment made that he needs back, at least in part, to pay Manor?

    1. I agree, I would assume Sauber is not returning his upfront payment in a timely manner. Not sure he is trying to embarrass but most likely wants his money, some settlement and a pound of flesh. I am sure the lawyer costs for Sauber will be significant more than a settlement would require.

  29. “He has not lost out financially because he was the one who would be paying”

    – Was the money ever coming directly out of Van der Garde’s pockets? Any third party sponsor will be paying Sauber and GvdG for the latter to drive for the former. That Sauber have pulled out presumably means that said sponsor is no longer paying GvdG, hence he’s losing cash.

    “If Van der Garde was named as a Manor Marussia driver before the case is heard he would have no case at all.”

    – Is this really the case? Out in the real world, if someone is unfairly dismissed I very much doubt the legal bods would expect said person not to look for a job while waiting for the procedings to run their course. Most of us have bills ot pay after all, in GvdG’s case there’s a pretty limited window to take a new job in F1.

    1. Legal action, entitlements, unfair dismissal claims! The poor lamb… blow fancy contracts, youngsters like this should try working in the real world for a while (pref in public services); who do they think they are?

    2. ‘Are you serious, Mr. van der Garde, you have a valid contract with X F1 Team to drive F1 car and you want Y F1 Team to respect your another valid contract to drive F1 car at the same time?’

  30. GvdG appears to have had a clear contract which, on the face of it, has been breached. Yes, he could shrug his shoulders and walk away muttering “c’est la vie” or he could sue. I think most would opt for the latter if it is the case Sauber have not taken steps to limit their downside which I suspect is the case. I understand G succeeded in an arbitration and so again it is less of a surprise he is following up his legal options in Aus. When one considers the lengths drivers have to go to to get an F1 drive, being unceremoniously dumped like that it is hardly likely they will take it lying down. Taking that all into account, and his inevitable financial backing, I would not describe it as curious but obvious.

  31. I can really see your point Joe, in the long term this is in nobody’s best interest. However, over the past decades there have been plenty of occasions in which F1 contracts proved not even to be worth the paper they were written on.

    For that exact reason I wouldn’t mind Sauber to lose this lawsuit. I can’t imagine he’d get the drive, but he might get some funds awarded. If they set up their deal properly one would say that he’d get awarded a salary (even if below the line,he only was only going to bring money).

    I would loved to have seen two fellow countrymen in F1 this year, so my judgement might be a bit impaired ;-). I guess F1 is over for Van der Garde (unless he’s silly enough to pay himself into the Manor).

  32. Perhaps Giedo will only get paid from sponsorship money if he races and would suffer that loss. He might also be claiming “consequential losses” from not being able to go elsewhere because of his contract to race for Sauber.

    Saucer might have difficulty claiming ‘force majeure’ if Giedo was going to pay them. The fact that they could get a better deal with other drivers might not be enough.

    Anyway, doesn’t sound like the best way to make friend and influence people.

    IANAL

  33. I think his defence is that Sauber didn’t give him the chance to come up with the extra dough.
    If he’s motivated by revenge or (his management / sponsor / father in law) want his money back, I don’t know. It depends how his ‘test and drive next year’-contract works.

    I do know, that he already won his case against Force India and got his money back.

    1. Chippy lefty bringing the politics of envy into a forum about a driver’s legal action against a team! If you resent rich people you’re following the wrong sport my friend.

    2. If everything is played hard in F1, why wouldn’t a driver with a clear contract play hard too? Especially if he has next to nothing to loose….

      By the way he himself isn’t a rich kid from childhood….he might have a wealthy father-in-law now. But that was not his personal start in life….so don’t judge this that simple…

      1. I did not suggest he is a rich kid. I know his story. I very much like Giedo and I think he is a good guy but this affair is all about brutal reality and while it may be wrong, it was deemed necessary by Sauber. The team is not run by bad people. The decision was about survival. If you understand both sides of the argument, it is clear that both sides are trying to do the right thing but it is all due to the Bianchi accident and the struggle to keep the team alive. I think a lot of fans do not understand how close some of the teams are to extinction.

        1. Thanks to your blog and a few notable others I believe there are many fans who ‘understand how close some of the teams are to extinction’ – but probably not the majority.

          However, at the other end of the grid, major sponsors appear to be increasingly thin on the ground. That, plus the continual bickering about advances in technology which ‘don’t suit the ethos of F1’, arbitrary mid-season rule changes and the lop-sided reward structure makes me think that the formula itself is about to go the way of the dodo, let alone Scandinavian parrot.

          Do I give a damn? No – after following it for 50yrs.
          Why? The farcical situation has dragged on far too long. A mature organisation would have sorted it ages ago. As for the ‘grassy-knoll’ brigade, they now constitute a major part of the sport’s entertainment wing. Nutters or satirists? Increasingly the latter I fear, thanks to F1’s woeful and patronising PR structure.

        2. Well no you are right there….I was more speaking to the general point of where teams always play hard ball in every aspect of the sport. Then a driver can do that too….but if it’s the best solution, no I don’t think so either. I can understand both Sauber and GvG, I am still hoping that Bernie magically sees the light and that he actually really needs the smaller teams and that he brings about financial change for them….but then I wake up again.

          Although an interesting theory about that: aren’t the bigger teams being difficult now because they want to pick up a B team for less money (i.e. just when they tip over…)? Not my theory but maybe you can weigh in on it Joe?

          By the way I never said you were calling him a rich kid Joe, that was in reply to Woody. @Plus Ca Change thats so true!

        3. It seems all Sauber do over the past few years is run sponsorship free cars and tread water. There was far too good a base left there from BMW to have done this little with, perhaps the overhead was immediately unsustainable after BMW left? The point is, it seems whomever is responsble for finding sponsorship backing has failed miserably and that was before the current climate where McLaren can’t find a title sponsor (although McLaren is probably looking for a triple A grade image match)

        4. Business has rules and is in many ways a complicated sport.

          If you’re saying that rules can be jettisoned for convenience then neither I nor any court will respect any of the myriad privileges bestowed upon who follow the rules, and take away such privilege. That can include the privilege of running a business that enjoys vast individual protection in law.

          Your argument Joe I’m sorry simply condemns the company.

            1. but this case certainly reduces chance of it remaining so. The team is run by a lawyer and she should could/ should have seen this happening

  34. I don’t think the drive is his ultimate aim. Imagine being Giedo Van der Garde… would you be happy to race (if he wins) in a team where no one wants you to be there? After all, F1 is still a team sport.

  35. Hi Joe,
    First safe travels to Australia, Emirates a great airline to come here although Dubai is a bit of a wacko airport I thought. Sorry I always tend to ask questions off topic but can you recommend, please, the latest fiction French writers? Here in Perth is pretty hard to find much on European literature, not very updated at all and despite the internet is always better a reference from someone one can rely on. Many thanks

  36. [offtopic] Come on Woody, that is a facebook reply…
    [ontopic]
    Obviously the distorted relation between Sauber and GvdG will ensure they will not give him the seat, it would not work during the season anyway.
    They say the contract was a test 2014/drive 2015 contract; therefore he could probably get back at least part of the sponsorship money paid to Sauber during 2014, which might make him more interesting for Manor.

    On the other hand Manor states they are talking to fast and young drivers; and GvdG cannot be called “young” anymore for an F1-driver.

    I guess we will just have to wait till Monday and till Manor announces their second driver.

  37. where does the contract recognition board fit into this? I thought that was supposed to be there to avoid this sort of thing.

  38. It’s sad that a driver has to sue to get a drive. You would think the guy would get the message that he is not F1 material. If he were, teams would be fighting to sign him up.

  39. Boekhoorn is not suing for money, he’s suing because they had high hopes of what in all likelihood was Giedo’s last chance of a semi-decent drive.

    1. If he wants Giedo to stay in F1 it is easy. Dig deeper into the pocket. Giving the money to lawyers is about pride, not reason.

      1. On the other hand, they had a deal. Had Giedo known he would be kicked after spending a year as a reserve, he might have kept his drive (and millions) at Caterham (who knows, perhaps these millions could make enough difference to see Cat still in action?)

      2. Without knowing the circumstances of this breakdown which I understand was litigated in November last year and is now in enforcement not even being appealed… Your comment sounds almost bullying in its demand.

        I did not realise until I read much much further abroad that this case is practically done dusted. This sadly sounds to me like a last minute attempt to get the man back to the table after he was told to go stuff it profoundly, and I don’t like the implications of this apparently massive disagreement with the facts in terms of report and personal opinion. Passion by all means. Prudence also.

  40. For the people wondering about how Van Der Garde is paid…I believe that his father-in-law is a very wealthy businessman who owns the McGregor brand, which was one of his visible sponsors when he drove for Caterham.
    Van Der Garde may be working on the principle that if there are no other F1 seats available, he has nothing to lose by litigating. And he has a 100% record in F1 litigation so far…
    If I am Sauber, I would be looking for a negotiated way out of this court case. They cannot afford for it to go to court.
    For starters, F1 teams do not look good when they go to court. Remember the time that Eddie Jordan was excoriated as a witness by a High Court judge when Jordan Grand Prix sued Vodafone? Secondly, their current sponsors will not like to see headlines like “Sauber in court case”. That’s not what they are paying for. They are paying for news of performances on a race track.
    Thirdly, there is a chance that Sauber could lose. If they lose, they could be forced to run Van Der Garde, and which one of the current drivers do they drop? And what happens to that driver’s contract and sponsorship? The phrase “can of worms” springs to mind.
    My prediction: a negotiated settlement.

      1. The judgment report is indeed hilarious, showing once again how convoluted F1 sponsorship deals can become. Yet another example of broken agreements, cheques not arriving, and a failed attempt by Minardi to pass the cost on to Clearly Canadian.

  41. Joe,

    Completely off topic……just read in autosport of the death of Gerard Ducarouge. thought you might have done a quick bio, or did I miss it?

    1. I’m afraid that I have had troubles of my own to deal with and poor Gerard was overlooked. I did write an obituary in the business newsletter and GP+ will have extensive coverage.

  42. Joe i found your article this time this time missing a lot of points. First of all gvdg and his backers paid for 2014 based on this contract. That is most likely a lot of money…. So the damage is not negligible. Second being on the grid is something special and considered as such, again also for his financial backers. Third a contract exists and has as such been acknowledged by SCAI. Sauber had clear instructions from the ruling. Fourth: His father in law is not a person to be taken lightly! More points: it is not only gvdg in court but also the vdg company. Basically legally a difference if vdg gets an income out of this company, whilts the company pays sauber. I sincerely believe that sauber is in deep trouble here, they are not on solid legal ground. If you read up on the Swiss newspapers thats apparently quitte clear. We have to wait the outcome monday, but for me i believe it is time a driver stands up against f1 teams breaking contract in public and i wish vdg a positive outcome. It might be wishfull thinking but this case is for me just another example of what F1 has become: I fully agree that there will be no winners here, however i hope it might have an impact for future contracts. Last…. Sutil is also taking legal action. Gvdg is not alone….

  43. By sueing to enforce the contract, he gets the chance to drive for a reasonable team (compared to Manor). At his age, he is running out of time to make an impact in F1 and having to wait another year would lessen his chances further when there are plenty of younger drivers around.

    To me this highlights the question of the quality of the senior management at Sauber. After Peter took a step back, the team has only moved backwards. Perhaps Renault might be interested?

  44. Isnt there some kind of internal F1 driver contract administration entity where contracts are supposed to be lodged to stop these kind of disputes going to Court?

      1. Could this be why GvdG is so much set on having this contract either honoured or cancelled? I read that he might not be willing/able to sign another deal until the issues with the Sauber contract are solved.

        He has had contract issues before when the organization mentioned above stopped him from testing for Spyker because he had a Super Aguri contract…

  45. It appears GvdG is seeking a rebate on his/sponsor’s fee payment, of 2014 which was tied in with the promise for the 2015 ride, to use at Manor instead.

  46. #1 Sutil is now suing Sauber as well .

    #2 A signed ‘ contract ‘ is a ‘ binding ‘ contract … not a mere suggestion [ as you should well know Joe seeing as how more than a few have stepped on your toes in that regard ] Sutil and GvdG have signed and therefore binding contracts which Sauber is currently attempting to circumvent/ignore [ not a smart move either when it comes to the Swiss courts according to my CH relatives ]

    #3 Therefore .. what is to be gained is that which is owed to both AS and GvdG . Either a season in the drivers 2015 seat …. or a reasonable and equitable buy out [ as AS is demanding ] of that 2015 seat … regardless of who the funds are to be paid out to .

    My overall conclusion ? Sauber is proving to be yet one more example of the rapidly degrading ethics and practices of F1 as a whole .. which is playing no small part in the ‘ sport’s ‘ overall demise . The sad thing being .. I’d of expected better of both Peter Sauber and the rest of the teams owners/sponsors .

  47. It is out of the question that either vd Garde or Sutil might gain a seat in this year’s contract. Both Ericsson and Nasr also have binding contracts, and no judge would kick either one of them out because another contract was signed earlier. The only option is money, either through a ruling or a settlement.

    1. “Both Ericsson and Nasr also have binding contracts, and no judge would kick either one of them out because another contract was signed earlier”.

      On the contrary, if it is the case that van der Garde and Sauber had a contract that was already in force before those drivers were signed, and vdG’s contract continues to be in force to date, the judge could rule that Ericsson or Nasr don’t have binding contracts.

      It could be argued that Sauber actively deceived either Nasr or Ericsson by promising them a position that had already been given to somebody else. Their contracts could therefore be ruled invalid if it was found that Sauber were misrepresenting their position in order to persuade Ericsson or Nasr to sign a deal with them.

  48. Clearly there are multiple millions of other peoples $s involved and what would seem to be a very good possibility of breach of contract… with a short timeline and pressure from sponsors and others to resolve quickly. I hope he gets his money back or the drive.

  49. Joe, am no lawyer but i believe GVG is within his rights to sue if he had binding contract to drive in 2015 and he would be due damages for breach of contract and/or 2015 seat. Irrespective of their circumstances Sauber should have known better than to simply put another driver in a seat that it appears they had already sold.

  50. The commercial rationale for Van der Garde’s actions against the Sauber team may be curious. However, having regard to what has gone before, his application to the Supreme Court of Victoria makes perfect sense. Van der Garde has reportedly succeeded in arbitral proceedings against Sauber in Switzerland. Australia has an International Arbitration 1974 (Cth) that enables certain foreign arbitral awards to be registered and enforced by Australian Courts as if they were determinations of Australian Courts. I infer that on Monday (which, incidentally, is a public holiday in Victoria) Van der Garde will ask Justice Clyde Croft (of the Supreme Court of Victoria) to make orders enabling the Swiss arbitral award to be enforced in Australia as if it were a judgment of the Supreme Court of Victoria. Without an order of that kind, Van der Garde’s success in the Swiss arbitral proceedings would be of little or no moment in Victoria, Australia – where the first race of the 2015 season is to be staged. I have not seen Van der Garde’s application, but it is possible that in addition he is seeking an injunction to restrain the Sauber team from breaching in Victoria its contractual obligations to Van der Garde (whatever they may be).

  51. Lawyers for Van der Garde have lodged an application with the Victorian Supreme Court against Sauber. Apparently one of Saubers responses include statements that the two cars they have to race for the Australian GP have been custom designed for Ericsson and Nasr. That to put Van der Garde in either of these cars would put him in serious risk, risk that could include death. Does this extend beyond custom seat fitting? Is Van der Garde of such girth or height compared to Nasr and Ericsson that is could out his life at risk? Is there anything substantial to this, or is it just faffing around in the hope that Australian judges can’t tell seat fittings from integral structural design? I guess it’s feasible that the cars have been structurally built around Nasr and Ericsson, but as I’m not an F1 engineer I have to say it seems a little far fetched in terms of their overall argument. I do, as implied, understand the concept of custom seats and safety harnesses, just not to the extent that a car or cars are built so specifically for a particular driver that a different driver could not drive them. As for risk of death, well even I. Today’s safety concious world I believe drivers are still risking death whenever they go racing, not just in F1, but pretty much all categories – I am unaware of any fatalities in lawn mower racing, I am prepared to be corrected.

    I had posted a reply to RobDin, above, that I doubted Australia’s govt would be involved, esp as they don’t appear to hold much regard to International Law in a lot of cases. That comment hasn’t appeared yet, caught up in the cue perhaps, I doubt it would have been blocked as the comments made are justified, and withstand examination. Having said that, the decision will not go anywhere near the Australia govt, it is being heard in a state court, under the judicial umbrella. So I don’t see any reason for any Australian govt, National or State to be involved. It is a matter for the judiciary, not the legislature.

    I doubt Australian police, Victorian, or Federal, will be arresting Monica or anyone else in the Sauber team, even if Van der Garde is successful. For a start this is a civil proceeding not a criminal proceeding, and it would be heavy handed treatment in a commercial disagreement.

    1. I can understand Sauber perhaps being unable to deal with seat fittings and matters of that nature this week in the lead up to the Aus GP. So I do understand their safety argument in regard to this event. I guess the action in the Victorian Supreme Court is particularly directed at the race this weekend, so again I can see sense in Saubers comments. My initial ridicule of their defence re driver safety is unfair.

  52. The rationale has to be this:
    “It appears GvdG is seeking a rebate on his/sponsor’s fee payment, of 2014 which was tied in with the promise for the 2015 ride, to use at Manor instead.”

    Nothing else makes sense:
    #1 If GvdG just wanted proof/confirmation that there was NO contract with Sauber so that another team was happy to sign him, then there is no reason why Sauber wouldn’t be happy to sign some confirmation to that effect. After all, Sauber aren’t going to spend money in court
    trying to prove they do have a contract with a driver they don’t want.

    #2 Trying to force Sauber to have him as a driver for the year is on a practical level not likely to succeed, as I can’t imagine there would be the most harmonious atmosphere in the garage.

    FWIW, I don’t buy the ‘Sauber had no choice’ argument. If a contract with GvdG was signed, then the choice they had post Bianchi was not GvdG’s money vs Nasr/Ericsonn’s money but in fact Nasr/Ericssonn’s money MINUS GvdG’s money (or at least the penalty clause on GvdG’s contract).

  53. Given that aborted Honda purchase up the page, could this Marcel Boekhoorn be thinking that if this forces Sauber into insolvency, he could buy the team for a song, and install his son-in-law as a driver?

  54. Am somewhat intrigued as to where Ericsson’s money comes from. I didn’t think he was independently wealthy, and neither has he looked so fast as to be worth an investor throwing a lot of their cash behind him as happened with say Alonso or Raikkonen in their early careers. Who’s paying the bills for him and what are they hoping to get out of it?

  55. Your legal reasoning here was significantly flawed. See my comments on your post re: Appeal failure. This is not “Hindsight being 20/20..” It was originally such poor reasoning it made me angry so didn’t think it was worth responding to as I couldn’t say anything nice.

    Regards,

    Daniel

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