Oh, what a tangled web

Giedo van der Garde’s application to the Australian courts to claim a race seat with Sauber for the 2015 season has been ruled successful. This creates a right royal mess. Sauber is, of course, to blame for this, but one can understand the motivations behind the decision. The original plan, as I understand it, was to have Jules Bianchi and Van der Garde as the team’s drivers in 2015. The inclusion of the Frenchman ensured a top talent and also backing for the team (probably in the form of an engine discount) from Ferrari. Van der Garde was included because he would be able to provide considerable funding for the team, through his sponsors, largely related to his father-in-law Marcel Boekhoorn. After Bianchi was injured in October, it became clear to Sauber that the plan needed to be changed as Ferrari was no longer in a position to help the team as it was going to do. The team still has an arrangement with the Italian team, to have Raffaele Marciello as its test driver, but this meant that the team still has a hole in its 2015 budget. Perhaps more importantly, so I am told, the team was in a cash-flow crisis at the time because of the failure of Russian backers to deliver money that had been promised and because the plan to develop a relationship with Simona de Silvestro had also run into financial trouble. The word is that Marcus Ericsson’s backers were willing to pay Sauber a substantial sum of money on signature of a 2015 contract which meant that the team was instantly out of immediate financial danger, but that still meant that there was more money required to get to a sensible budget in 2015. Thus when Felipe Nasr came along with more money than Van der Garde, it was the obvious solution to the problem. Ericsson and Nasr are pay-drivers just as Van der Garde is a pay-driver, but with more money and no real evidence to show that Van der Garde would produce better results it was logical for the team to secure its financial future and hope to be able to score the best possible results, so as not to risk losing its TV money in 2015.

It is clear that the only possible solution will be some kind of a settlement, but Sauber cannot really afford to pay Van der Garde to go away. In any case, it is a ridiculous situation in that the team will have no desire at all to run Giedo and he is not going to be able to produce any decent results with a team that does not want him, so forcing the team to put him in the car is not really going to achieve a great deal. The team is faced with the same problem if it now dumps one of the other drivers so it is probably best to stick with what is done and work out how to settle the dispute. The court has ruled that the contract is valid but it remains to be seen whether there is an order to Sauber to run him. If there is then the team is in danger of contempt or court, but if not it could simply ignore the ruling and then Van der Garde would have to apply for damages. Giedo does seem to have a right to feel aggrieved, but he must also understand why this has happened. That does not help his career but going ahead will not be much help either. Other teams may be wary of doing any deals with him in the future on the basis that he is rocking the boat when it clearly does not need to be rocked.

Sauber is trying to argue that Van der Garde will present an unacceptable safety risk as he has not driven the car and it has been tailored to fit the other drivers.

“We are disappointed with this decision and now need to take time to understand what it means and the impact it will have on the start of our season,” Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber CEO and team principal, said. “What we cannot do is jeopardise the safety of our team, or any other driver on the track, by having an unprepared driver in a car that has now been tailored to two other assigned drivers.”

Finding a solution to the problem is not going to be easy, but I really don’t see what Van der Garde has to gain from going on down this path. With Roberto Merhi having been signed by Manor Marussia the last available race seat is now closed to him.

335 thoughts on “Oh, what a tangled web

  1. Isn’t Merhi just for the first couple of races ? Could the whole point of the exercise be to get the money back (& maybe compensation) from Sauber which could then go with him to Manor ? A shame for Sauber, but a contract has to be worth something, especially as the poor guy was stung along all year on the promise of a drive the following year.

    1. does anyone remember a term called “Bosman ruling”? I begin to wonder if that has something to do with why Sauber dumped GvdG along with serious cash-strap situation

  2. I’m amazed Sauber let it get this far. They have already lost this case once in a Swiss court – surely they should have worked out a deal once that ruling was handed down.

    It can’t be that simple…can it?

    1. Having read all the comments between Joe & the large gang of responders, I can only say that I see what Joe is getting at. Sauber chose to take money from 2 other drivers inorder to survive as a team. I’m not totally sure but assume that GvdG also gave Sauber money for his 2015 seat, but they have not offered to return said money, they have just sacked him instead and kept the cash.
      All this seems very dishonest whatever Sauber’s financial situation was or still is, and one can completely understand why GvdG has gone to the Contracts Board and the Supreme Court in Victoria, and why both bodies have stated that Sauber are in the wrong.
      No one wants to see a team go under, and all those jobs go, however I’ve been harking on that this would occur, whilst everyone else was saying how great F1 is now…it isn’t and hasn’t been for many years now. The whole problem is that it went through a period when it made some folk a huge sum of money but that era is long gone. However the participants in F1 can’t see this or accept it, so they carry blindly on throwing money around and achieving nothing except the gradual demise of what was once, a great sporting series.
      The answer? Turn back the clock 30 years to when £1,000,000 could put 2 cars on the grid 14 times or so a year. Stop pretending that F1 is anything more than sport and a good sport at that. F1 will not stop Polar Bears dying out, or Rain Forests declining etc etc. It could be a great series again, but to do so, people have to be realistic over costs and how the series should run and what things should be done to sustain it, and one of those things should be the ability for a team to buy cars from another team, and to be able to buy engines for a sensible price, and get rid of all this absurd expense and immoral business practices. Frankly, the behaviour displayed by many in F1 makes me sick, and does nothing to make me want to watch it on any media device! I think it was Gerald Lopez of Lotus, who said last year that it was insane that teams were spending £150m/£200m/£500m or whatever, to race some 6 secs a lap quicker than a GP2 car, especially when a 2 car GP2 team costs about £6m a year, ( I think that was the figure he mentioned ), and to be brutally honest, the reason F1 is so expensive is less to do with a need for high tech and speed, and much more to do with fooling sponsors to spend outlandish sums of cash, so that a clique of wideboys and spivs can make fortunes. It really is high time the whole shooting match collapsed and was replaced with a proper series that had honest racing as it’s core value.

  3. A year too late. That’s the trouble with the Bianchi plan. Luca and Monisha should have switched Jules B to Sauber in 2014 not wait for 2015. Ditherers.

  4. Monisha Kaltenborn should be sacked. This should have never happened. No doubt she relied on counsel, but that is no excuse. She needs to fall on her sword. End of story.

  5. I guess at some point, somebody has to stand up and demand that contracts are respected. I understand the dynamics at play. I get the need to survive, the cut throat thing and the more reasonable safety issue argument. But just maybe VdG’s money saved Sauber’s previous season and he accepted seeing Sutil and Guttierez in the car knowing 2015 would be his turn at the wheel. Maybe being dumped like he was, hurt just a little too much in the circumstances (or his father-in-law didn’t much like being taken for a ride by Monisha)

  6. Actually the solution is really simple, give back VdG money. Can’t do it? then go bankrupt. Easy. You can’t have your cake and it eat too. Either take the financial hit or go bankrupt. It’s simply A or B.

  7. What a nice start into first race in Melbourne.
    Just look away and move on. Nothing to look at here.

  8. “but I really don’t see what Van der Garde has to gain from going on down this path”

    How about some self respect? I applaud Giedo for not letting his guard down. Teams should be held accountable for what they do. Giedo probably knows that he wasnt getting an F1 seat anyways so why not fight all the way

  9. “Finding a solution to the problem is not going to be easy, but I really don’t see what Van der Garde has to gain from going on down this path”

    I can, there are only20 odd people that will get to race an F1 car this year and he wants to be one of them and he has a valid contract to race said car!

    If i were that close i would do what he is doing 100%

  10. What does he have to gain from this? His rightful F1 seat. He would have been on the sidelines this year without this drive, and unlikely to ever come back. I doubt he needs money, so a settlement would have not appeased him; racing in the 2015 Formula One season was his goal, and he was determined to achieve it.

    Yes Sauber needs the pay driver money, and sold to the highest bidder, then two more times to the other highest bidders, but the former lawyer team management royally screwed the pooch on this one. She thought she could word her way out of it. The team’s legal defense was laughable, at best. Did it forget how they put de la Rosa in their seat in 2011 with no prior experience behind the wheel of that car?

    VDG may not do too poorly anyway. Although the team may not “want” him, they won’t sabotage their own performance to prove a point – constructor money is too significant. And I certainly don’t rate him worst of the 3 contracted drivers.

    In the end, I hate to see any F1 team struggle financially, but the morale victors were the legal victors today. Justice is done, as far as I’m concerned. Maybe VDG’s money can be used to hire a marketing department while they’re at it.

    1. Yes there is. The Swiss Court of Arbitration is the appeals court for the CRB, and Giedo van der Garde has already won the case against Sauber there.

  11. I side with Giedo 100%. he should absolutely stand firm no matter what. there is no reason for anyone to not like him because of this. this is entirely saubers fault, specifically kalterborn. I would rather see sauber settle with Ericsson saying sorry but we effed up and signed you when we already had a contract with someone else.

  12. Monisha K was quoted last year as saying contracts in F1 are worth nothing. My impression is that a contract in F1 can disappear if someone is willing to write a big enough cheque. That’s the part of F1 contracts she seems to have missed. What must Peter Sauber think of this?

  13. He’ll get another drive anyway if he’s paying enough. If Sauber doesn’t want to commit to their contracts, this is the consequence. I don’t think he’s harming his future prospects as a pay driver.

  14. This is bad.

    Having read the judgment, it’s a pretty straightforward enforcement in Australia of a much more detailed Swiss arbitral decision which is probably confidential — unless someone leaks a copy). My guess is that there are not really very many options for appeal of the Australian judgment by Sauber — and in any case, it won’t really matter after Sunday.

    The Australian judgment won’t apply outside Australia, of course (although Croft J. mentions that the Swiss arbitral decision does apply to the whole season) — presumably van der Garde has lawyers lined up in Malaysia and beyond, to try to get a string of interlocutory orders for every round. This means that Sauber will have to devote money and energy to fighting van der Garde at every round. In general though, enforcement of an arbitral award does not involve re-fighting the merits of the original case, so it might be case Sauber will just

    One crucial detail, which the Australian judgment does not address, is whether van der Garde proposes to be paying Sauber if he ends up driving their car. If so, then Sauber might be able to prevail upon one of the existing driver consortia to give up a seat voluntarily for van der Garde (and suspend their payments). If not, then Sauber presumably can’t suspend one of their existing drivers without sparking another action from Ericsson’s or Nasr’s backers.

    If one of the existing drivers cannot be persuaded to abdicate, we’re looking at default judgments from someone, bailiffs in the paddock, etc., etc.

    I don’t actually see how Sauber can get to August without a wind-up order, unless someone gives van der Garde a good shaking, or one of Ericsson or Nasr does something noble. Or maybe Tony Fernandes could cleanse the blot on his escutcheon by buying a Manor drive for one of the three. It’s going to take a miracle of that order. O dear…

    1. Sorry, third paragraph should end “it might be the case that Sauber will be arguing a lost cause, and will see a new order to put van der Garde in the cockpit before every race.”

  15. This is just an absurd situation- a team that has been chronically under funded now has 3 “pay drivers” contesting for their 2 seats. van see Garde has no business being in the car given he missed out on all the pre- season and perhaps if he was contemplating a legal action he might of found other legal remedies before the start of the official season. He’ll lose for winning and most probably never see the inside of an F1 garage again. First class thinking on his part to secure a ride.

  16. Don’t know about gain, but Van der Garde has nearly nothing to lose. Very few drivers have found a return into F1 after being shown the door. He’s finding for a seat, so let him do it. Worst case he won’t have one, and that’s exactly what he has now.

  17. It’s my impression that a lot of dealings in F1 we never hear about, these things are done behind the scenes, the machine does not run smoothly on its own. With that said, I see the FIA talking to Giedo and telling him, there really is a safety issue and if he forces himself into an unsafe position the FIA will strip him of his Super License and he will not be able to race in any FIA sanctioned series EVER. Think about it kid, life is not fair, your far to old to not have gotten that message before now, deal with it. We will never hear a thing, just a letter from Giedo happy to be part of an F1 team and a letter from Sauber happy to have ironed out a few things.
    Sauber screwed up, but when the interests of a driver supersede that of a team, and even threatens the teams survival (which really screws up the whole FOM FIA world, just like Marlon Brando in On The Water Front), the kid is going to have to take a dive, contender or not.

  18. Obviously three into two wont go. So what has Sauber got to do to untangle its self from this mess?
    I really do think that being the CEO and Team Principal in an F1 team and a lawyer to boot, would certainly make me think that Monisha Kaltenborn should have known what she was doing when she signed a contract. If not, then she should not be running a F1 team. Period! F1 is about confidence, and she is out of it, both inside the team and externally. “Time for a new boss, same as the old boss”
    These are desperate times for Sauber and to appeal a court ruling such as was handed down in Switzerland and then again here today, is to bring disaster to a team.
    In the “good old days” Bernie would have had everyone into the grey bus and told them what to do to fix the problem. I fear this is another sign that Bernie is not what he once was, so nothing will happen.
    A further problem, I suspect, is that the money has already been spent! Otherwise a deal would already have been done!
    F1 is also about money and pressure. The more money you have, the more pressure, both inside and outside a team. The less money you have, the more pressure, both inside and outside the team!!! You get my point! Desperate people do desperate things, its time to stop the desperation, because any time soon, there will be another court case on the CEO’s desk from whomever is not in a car come Friday.
    This wont end well for anyone, at this level this sort of thing is not a game.

    1. I remember Bernie saying, in the “old days”, his handshake was as good as his word but things are a little different now and contracts are needed. So I wonder what he thinks about this royal mess. Bernie is also fond of saying something the lines of “spend within your budget”. While F1 is the “piranha’s club”, one’s reputation is also important and Sauber seems to have forgotten that. An out of court settlement would have been the best rather than have this soap opera being played out.

  19. Formula 1 has become bit of a farce in the past few years .Sure there are some good drivers at the top of the field but the smaller teams are really scrambling to make it to the racing grid, even if it means on boarding substandard drivers.Things have become so bad recently that we are not even sure if all teams or drivers are going to race just weeks before first grand prix.The pinnacle of motor should never have been like this in first place. There is something fundamentally wrong with this sport and a lot of it has to do with Bernie at the helm. One should now seriously start questioning his decision making ability given his ripe old age.

  20. I does seem fan are with Van der Garde, Sauber not looking very good at the moment . Make for a exciting Friday free practice 🙂

  21. When Vitantonio Liuzzi was similarly treated by an F1 team, for similar reasons presumably as Sauber had, I don’t remember you advising the driver to be looking at the big picture then. A contract is a contract, and Sauber have acted in bad faith. Two courts have said so. The ‘safety’ argument is a desperate clutch at straws, and leaves somewhat of a bad taste considering the post-Bianchi climate.

  22. Agree with your argument, but maybe that’s what F1 needs is someone to start rocking the boat and for that reason we should applaud Giedo for his guts to take it further – it might be the start of a Bosman Ruling type situation for F1 where drivers get more protection even if they be pay drivers. End of the day if I have two cars and sell them to three people (and they pay for them cash) I will probably be arrested – Sauber must suffer the consequences of their actions.

  23. Granted, van der Garde has few other options at this stage. What strikes me is that the court sided with him. This says that Sauber is in fact, in breach of contract. The deduction I draw from that is that Sauber just figured he’d go away, however van der Garde has no place to go and he’s not accepting his life’s quest being cast aside like trash by Big Bad Sauber. Van der Garde has teeth and the fighting spirit any F1 driver needs. Apparently Sauber broke their contract and now it’s time for them to deal with the consequences. They made their bed. If Ms. Kaltenborn is perplexed about van der Garde driving having not tested, that’s the potential price she pays for knowingly going into a breach of contract in the first place. Ms Kalterborn has an extensive business background and had to know the potential results. Sauber has appealed, naturally. We’ll see where that goes. The down side is that if this sticks, where does that leave Sauber? They are a cash strapped team and if one of the pay drivers is replaced, how will that effect the team?
    Catch 22. Horrible potential, but not van der Garde’s fault. This lies at Sauber’s doorstep, from what we’re seeing.

  24. Hi Joe, welcome back to Australia. I hope you have a good stay and a sold out attendance for your “Audience with Joe”. Would love to come along but won’t be in Victoria. If I get to a GP weekend, I would consider your “Audience” as an integral part of the GP event. One day…

    Here’s to a cracking start to the season, Manor (Marussia lives), Honda returning, Magnussen second chancing, Ricciardo taking the top podium this year (everybody loves a home crowd hero), and a ridiculously fast, yet safe, weekend for all.

  25. Even though I understand the predicament Sauber had gotten itself into because of their finances…..and even though I am Dutch, I don’t particularly care for Giedo…but you know it’s bollocks to call it unsafe to put Giedo in the car. Sauber clearly have forgotten their own past in snubbing Gutierrez in favour of de la Rosa and decided to put him in their car just hours before FP1 in Canada 2011 (Pedro at the time also had 0 experience with either their car or its engine)….the whole Manor F1 team hasn’t even tested the car at all and they are going to run 2 drivers with less experience than Giedo. So the safety argument is utter BS. Even based on the recent past it can be argued that Giedo is a safer driver than Nasr.

    On top of that, it serves as a good reminder for the teams that even tough someone is a pay driver. It does not give them the right to just say f. you and that even F1 lives in the real world, where mistakes can have real legal consequences! In none of their court defences (in Melbourne at least) have I read that they put forward that they were in financial ruins and they just needed the money (because I understand and sympathise with that) to have the team survive. So even that argument seems to have no legal merits in this case otherwise they could have used that in court as well. Even a judge would be sympathetic to the survival and employment of a team of 300+ people versus 1 driver. So their financial issues that arose from the loss of Bianchi is maybe arguable at best.

    So in conclusion and as you said yourself there is only one to blame for this and that is Sauber themselves. I am very curious to see if Peter is going to step in again and what the future of Monisha is going to be….

  26. When Perez felt bad in Canada in 2012, DelaRosa got in the car in his McLaren overall. He drove the car from the year before but never the 2012 contender. So the danger ‘argument’ is invalid.

    Having said that, it will be really awkward if he gets the drive.

  27. Hi Joe,

    As I understood the Merhi deal is just for 1 or 2 races? So Giedo can get this seat after that. It is all not very pretty and this has definitely ruined his career. And the only thing could be for him to race Manor this and next year. You can not expect him to do any wonders with that car so that will be the end of it. He might buy a seat in sportscars or something. Too bad, because I really thought he was a decent driver, maybe the best of the pay-drivers.

    As a Dutchman we I can now focus on Max Verstappen which will have a lot more potential. I am still sad that Robin Frijns already has to go for plan B and forget about his F1 dream.

  28. The boat DID have to be rocked. There was was a contract in place. Was/is Giedo supposed to just shrug his shoulders and walk away?

      1. That is a nice saying Joe. But if you were sponsoring Giedo and you were expecting some nice exposure on TV in 2015, and you would hear that Giedo would not deliver any exposure because he is not going to drive, would you not put a claim in with Giedo, asking your money back? Which he can’t because he already paid the team last year. And yes, you can argue that most of the money comes from his father-in-law but that doesn’t mean that he is throwing his money away just like that. If someone needs to take the hit, it starts at Sauber, they compensate Giedo and then Giedo can compensate his sponsor. If that is not possible, then Giedo is entitled to drive for Sauber in 2015.

  29. Well, what van der Garde gains is possibly an opportunity to continue his F1 career. Without this Sauber seat, he will never return to F1, we all know that. Half the (young) European drivers hope for an F1 career, so I think it is wise of Guido to pursue this. And maybe, just maybe, if he does well at Sauber, this opens doors at other teams in the future?

    Or is it a way to force Sauber to compensate Guido (and his backers) or get the already invested money back?

    Having said that, I do hope to see how Nasr will fare in F1, he has been waiting in the wings too long…

  30. It does seem that Van der Garde’s quest is a bit pointless, but we should all consider that F1 is a business, and VdG got money from his sponsors in exchange for competing in F1 and presenting his sponsors on his overalls, helmet or in commercials. It is all based on him being in F1, and was probably signed based on his agreement with Sauber. That Sauber would back out on the agreement and expect to get away free, i dont think that in business world that would be acceptable.

    I am an F1 fan, and i blame VdG for this. But when i step aside, and look at the subject at hand objectively, Sauber as a team is the only guilty party here, and it should either give race seat to VdG or pay suitable amount of money for damages. Yes it might mean that they might go under, but is that VdG’s fault or is it Kaltenborns fault? I believe it is her.

  31. First of all Sauber’s argument is weak since as some may remember after Sergio Perez his accident in Monaco they had to run de la Rosa on very short notice. Pedro even used his McLaren race suit… But hey a team says whatever is needed to win the case.

  32. “but one can understand the motivations behind the decision.”

    Understandable? Maybe. Does that mean Sauber should get away with it? No.

    “Giedo does seem to have a right to feel aggrieved, but he must also understand why this has happened.”

    I’m sure he understands, does that mean he should just bend over, apply lube and accept it? No.

    “Other teams may be wary of doing any deals with him in the future on the basis that he is rocking the boat when it clearly does not need to be rocked.”

    So these days an employee going after an employer that didn’t honor a apparently legal contract is rocking the boat? Sauber screwed up and VdG is the few drivers not simple putting up with it. Maybe Sauber didn’t expact that to happen but maybe this will turn out to be a lesson for Sauber and other teams on the grid next time they try to screw over a driver.

    As far as his future is concerned…

    “With Roberto Merhi having been signed by Manor Marussia the last available race seat is now closed to him.”

    With no other seats available VdG can pretty much forget about F1 so why wouldn’t he rock the boat?

    I find it a bit shocking you make it sound (in my opinion) that VdG is in the wrong and shouldn’t complain so much as Sauber apparently had “no other choice”. I believe you wrote on multiple occasions that you had your fair bit of arguments with publishers not paying you. If they would have told you paying you would make the go out of business would you simply be OK with that? I don’t think so.

    Sauber made a bit VdG wasn’t going to stir up too much of a shitstorm. They bet wrong. Nobody is to blame except Sauber.

  33. Although Mehri himself already mentioned that he doesn’t really expect to be in the car for more than the first few races, so in theory it might be that as soon as VdGarde settles something with Sauber he can then buy himself into the Manor seat

  34. Such a bizarre story. I remember when Button signed to go back to Williams then changed his mind Patrick Head said something about not being able to force drivers to drive if they didn’t want to. The same must apply the other way around! Sauber have everything to lose by ignoring the order and by complying with it, they may be forced to pay compensation to whichever driver isn’t in the car or alternatively go into administration and everyone loses. I would guess VdG is the cheaper driver to pay compensation to!

  35. I thought that Roberto Merhi was only signed for the “opening rounds”, so Guido could be signed later on in the season. Obviously he needs to settle his dispute with Sauber first otherwise he could breach contracts by signing up with another team …

    I’m sure if Sauber would offer him sufficient money as compensation, which he could bring to Manor, this would be a rather quick process.

    The big question of course is where does Sauber gets the money from?

    I used to have a lot of respect for Sauber but this move – regardless of how desperate the team fights for survival – has put a big dent in its reputation.

  36. I understand Sauber’s plight but a deal is a deal and the courts agree with van der Garde. The safety argument just doesn’t stand up. We’ve got Mehri and Stevens jumping in the Manor with no seat time and we’ve seen drivers parachuted in to other teams at the last minute without a seat fitting. Van der Garde has more F1 experience than Nasr or Ericsson combined so he knows what he’s doing and a bit of experience might even help Sauber if they can put their differences behind them but that won’t happen. Sauber will pay VDG off and lose half their budget and have another bad season. Seems like Karma to me.

  37. Interesting the judges were apparently asking where the FIA rep is in all of this. JEAN, YOU’RE NEEDED!

  38. It does seem that F1 has been increasingly regarding contractual obligations as optional; a technical impediment to ones plans that can be negotiated away.

    Ultimately that cannot be good for the the sport, the F1 brand nor the teams.

    Sauber took a calculated risk in this matter based on historical outcomes and in this instance that risk assessment was flawed.

    It is rather distasteful of them to adopt a moral high ground of “safety”; the guy would have had the time in the car if they had upheld their agreed contract with him.

    I have no sympathy for Sauber whatsoever.

  39. Sauber may have done what is logical, but they have not done what is right. Now they have to sort that out. They have gone with their heads rather than their hearts.
    Often in times gone by true victory has been dragged from from the jaws of defeat by those who have done what is right rather than what is “logical” (read financially expedient), our myths are full of it.

  40. As I said in my last post, Van der Garde’s application to the Supreme Court of Victoria made perfect sense. The primary judge agreed, see Giedo van der Garde BV v Sauber Motorsport AG [2015]. Now lets see what the Court of Appeal (usually a bench of three) thinks …

  41. Given the Sauber CEO is a lawyer by trade it does seem a cynical move to simply break a clear contract but she probably thought he is just a driver so it doesn’t matter. It didn’t take long for F1 morals to corrupt hers.

  42. All of this could’ve been avoided if Sauber didn’t cynically violate the terms of a legally binding valid contract with VdG last season and instead sought a way to legally terminate the deal.

    VdG is merely fighting for his legal rights – as would be natural for anyone to do if they were being violated – against a very, very cynical Monisha Kaltenborn, a trained lawyer with a masters’ degree in International Business Law from the London School of Economics! She should’ve known better than to simply ignore the team’s legal responsibility to meet the terms of a valid contract.

    I’m a bit surprised, Joe, at your willingness to seemingly excuse Sauber’s calculated breaking of contract law and your criticism of VdG for refusing to abrogate his contractual rights. I understand that structural inequality in F1 business model is probably more significant factor in Sauber’s current plight than mismanagement by Kaltenborn and her board, but VdG is to be commended for standing on principle (and, presumably, his father in law’s money?) and fighting back against a bully like Kaltenborn.

    Just b/c Bernie and CVC are screwing over F1, that doesn’t give team principals and the corporations they lead the right to screw over employees and break valid contracts w/o consequence…

  43. If Sauber has acted cynically and broken contract then Van der Garde is entitled to recourse.

    Resulting bad smell, adverse publicity and possible compensation should have been calculated into Sauber´s decision. F1 may be a dirty world, but why should anyone just roll over and let it happen to them?

  44. Well, first of all it I would say it is most probably about getting what you are entitled to. On the other hand we need to assume there is something behind it, since it seems obvious that the relationship with the team is distorted making it difficult to believe he will actually drive.

    Secondly Merhi is only confirmed for ‘the beginning of the season’ which could indicate he has the seat ill the beginning of the WSR campaign at the end of April. I could also not find any info Merhi ‘resigned’ from his WSR seat.

    Curious how things will develop with the appeal of Sauber being postponed till tomorrow.

  45. Hi Joe, on the face of it seems that the arguments from Sauber are not very strong as there are plenty of examples were drivers were put in a car without testing and did not pose a threat to the rest of the field.
    And surely there can be evidence that they can build a seat within a few hours.
    I am wondering were Peter Sauber stands in all this and if this in any way could affect Monisha’s position.

    Its a strange situation and if I see Giedo’s reaction he seems oblivious to the fact that the team is not happy to have him…

  46. Joe,

    An awesome insight into what really is happening behind the scenes.
    I find your blog a worthy read and have for sometime. I just thought I would let you know.

    Regards,
    Heath

  47. Maybe it’s a matter of principle, rather than pragmatism, from VdG’s point of view. I’m sure he won’t be fretting about how Sauber get themselves out of this.

    I can’t see why he would allow past employers to walk over him, in case future employers try to do the same.

    Good luck to him, though it would be a shame to lose Sauber. One more twig on the bonfire that will one day be lit under those who are milking F1 dry.

  48. It’s not Giedo just choosing to rock ate boat, though, is it? His backers will have paid a significant sum of money for the role he had with Sauber and will expect van der Garde to do everything in his power to ensure that Sauber honours its commitments or else pays them back.

    Otherwise his backers might not want to back his career any more. Which doesn’t do van der Garde any favours either.

  49. Whilst I agree with your comments on the Sauber vs GvdG situation, in almost every aspect Joe, I do feel more inclined to being happier for Guido, than for Sauber, as regardless of Sauber’s finances, a deal is a deal, and I find people who try to wriggle out of their obligations, to be unattractive and I’m sorry to feel like that about Sauber as I’ve always had admiration for them as a team, and for Peter Sauber in particular who I’ve regarded as a decent, honest man, and a real racer. The Sauber defence, such as it was, was also pathetic and stupid, and seemed to indicate that they had little respect for the intelligence of the Judge or their fans.

  50. Nobody comes out of this looking clever. Nonetheless I am bound to think that it could all have been avoided if Sauber had honoured its commitment to GvdG. You cannot simply discard an agreement because it no longer suits you; it’s behaviour like that which brings businesses and the sport into disrepute.

    As so often happens, this will seriously compromise Sauber and end up costing more than they gained by ditching him in the first place.

  51. Manor seat does not seem to be occupied for the whole season, Merhi has been officially claimed to be signed for ‘opening rounds’ and it might be not more than Australia.
    Giedo seems to be of Marcus’ size, actually.

  52. Sauber, what a mess they have got themselves into. Once a decent middle ranking team with good people and an honest approach to F1, now a complete shambles and their brand value has just vanished. Time for new management and better commercial advisors.

  53. The one thing it does for me is to show F1 that a contract is a contract, and that it’s participants are not above the law. It also shows how weak the “controllers” of F1 are – the FIA have done nothing (as per usual) but neither has Bernie, although he’s probably laughing all the way to the bank in the belief that all publicity is good publicity. Sadly the days of the Rob Walker/Stirling Moss handshake are long gone.

  54. I think Sauber’s argument should have been something like, ..if we run him, we will cease to exist as a business…
    We obviously don’t know what transpired between the driver and the team before they made their announcement to terminate his contract. Did they try to reach an agreement with him and he refused, forcing them to go ahead with the decision to sign on Erricson and Narsa?
    Sauber were always going to be in a difficult position as salaries and suppliers have to be payed and I am finding it difficult to judge them, as I simply do not shoulder the responsibilities they have upon their corporate necks. I also can understand Geido’s frustration if it turned out he was unceremoniously dumped.
    I am sure it will be all smiles if Geido can pay more matching whatever the loss from terminating one of their currently signed drivers, but then there will be another law suit waiting in the wings.

  55. I don’t understand how this damage his career? He was always considered a pay driver who took a reserve role in return for a contractually arranged race seat later on.

    When the dust has settled, worse case he’ll be a pay driver who was screwed over by the team and best case (for him) is he pays to race as agreed all along.

    Sauber management needs to be on the chopping block for this – you don’t fix a cash flow issue by ignoring your obligations. You are being far too generous.

    1. because there are it seems enough pay drivers in the lower formula thesedays and some bring bigger bags of cash than others, Sauber found two quite quickly with alot more money than VgD could offer, thats how this situation came about.

      So then what becomes VgDs unique selling point as a pay driver of no more than equal talent to the other pay drivers but with less money, who doesnt take the hint to go away quitely, rocks the boat and likes spending lots of time in court fighting against a team that by enforcing to run him, ends up bankrupting them, thereby ending his Sauber after approx a 1 lap sojourn anyway.

      why would any other team want to employ him under these circumstances ? both Nasr and Ericsson would then be available and have more money. and if his father in law had enough money to buy a broken team why not stump up the extra cash to give VgD as it would be cheaper than buying an F1 team for sure and would have stopped all this getting so far anyway

      the thing thats surprised me most so far is how alot of the drivers/other media are lining up with VgD, not just on the point he has a valid contract,thats not really debateable as far as we can tell, but that he should be allowed to drive whatever the cost to Sauber, which makes me wonder have Sauber not been offering enough free food/coffee lately, as they dont seem to be getting the full support of all the people in the paddock youd expect

  56. Hi Joe,

    I do not often make comments on these kinds of blogs but with your current post I feel obliged to. Let me first tell you that I greatly enjoy your blog, but I must say that I strongly disagree with your take on the van der Garde case. Let me summarize my comments below:

    – ‘it was logical for the team to secure its financial future’

    Well, of course it is logical to secure your financial future, but in the end they didn’t seem to manage this either way right? It seems now they are taking a hit, irrespective of the final driver line-up they will be keeping. So they should have analyzed the situation better beforehand, before employing the tactics they have employed. With proper management this could have been avoided to a great extent.

    – ‘Giedo does seem to have a right to feel aggrieved, but he must also understand why this has happened.’

    Because of what I outlined above Giedo, in my view, should completely NOT understand why this happened. As I described above, whatever path Sauber would have decided on, it was not a financial life-saver for the team. So they should have come up with a different solution. In addition, but I have to admit I have not yet read it from credible sources, to this is the fact that it is said GvG and his representatives have not been offered a fair discussion in order to solve the situation at hand. Maybe his lovely father-in-law would have been prepard to put more money on the table to keep Giedo at Sauber. For now it seems Sauber have not investigated this road.

    – ‘Other teams may be wary of doing any deals with him in the future on the basis that he is rocking the boat when it clearly does not need to be rocked.’

    This is where I find my biggest problem with your blog. As described above there is clearly incentive to rock the boat. What is more astounding, is that with this comment you completely disregard any rights a driver should have in F1. While I can agree with you that maybe he himself does not have to gain so much (other than a year in F1 which might be good enough for me!), there is a lot at stake here for the general rights of drivers. Simply dismissing their rights and the defense of their rights based on a situation that has resulted from poor management, not any actions from the driver’s side, is quite absurd actually. It is good that somebody stands up for these rights. Try sacking a whole bunch of construction workers because the financial future of the company is in danger. Rightly so, there are a large number of rights that these workers have instead of plainly being dismissed!

    Yours sincerely,

    1. Hi Joe,

      Would be great if you were not censoring replies to your blog that do not necessarily agree with your point of view and that are not easily rebunked with an easy one-liner claiming more insight than the average joe, or a non-argument that people do not know how F1 works.

      Yours sincerely,

  57. Joe,

    I was conviced Giedo is in it for a payback from Sauber, but just read his interview online, he cant stop talking about getting back in the car. I’ll be surprised if he’s faking it.

    As for Sauber, appealing on grounds of safety is a bit of a joke, when F1 itself if more than happy to let Manor in turn allow Roberto Merhi take the second drive at such short notice.

    If Sauber has to do a deal with GvG to stop him from forcing his way into a race seat, doesnt this open a pandora’s box for the entire Paddock, starting with Adrain Sutil’s all contracts now hold some value even if they dont convert into a race seat ?

    Moreover could this be a Bernie supported endeavor to create a situation to introduce third car for team on the grid ? Just about now, Felipe Nasr is an excellent candidate for it !

    – From strangely cold Delhi
    Abhishek

  58. The saifety argument is BS. One needs only tot look at the 2011 Canadian GP where De la Rosa stepped into a Sauber to replace Perez without any test or seatfit. Besides, Manor wouldn’t even be allowed to drive if that was an issue.

    As for why? Maybe because Giedo has a debt of €24 million? And hopes to see either a drive or large pay off to compensate for that?

  59. You could hardly expect Van der Garde to take it on the chin and let Sauber walk all over him, then what? He’s probably blotted his book with Formula One now and will go the way of Nelson Piquet Junior; a minnow with a pyrrhic victory

  60. I totally disagree that GvdG ought to be regarded poorly as you state.

    I cannot fathom why the aggrieved person in a serious matter of career and substantial money should be penalized.

    Courts do not give rulings to people who frivolously or vexatiously sue. They strongly dislike parties who fail to mitigate situations and in this case that appears to be the Sauber management not the dismissed driver.

    Why do you call for such sanction?

    If you look over his position to be honest his career wasn’t full of options so what I find flabbergasts me is how the management could not see he’d have little to lose if they acted as they did? Not to mention his recourse to finance must have made him clearly dangerous!

    The courts seem to agree that the team is in the wrong clearly but somehow this causes public call for the driver to be distrusted.

    I can understand with the frailty of the sport right now that anyone would be defensive of its members. But those in glass houses might best not throw stones or take ridiculous legal risks. It’s entirely petulant to presume a man unfairly deprived of his last option to drive must take one for the boys because life is hard. Nonsense. Such calls backfire because you can’t gain sympathy for a team that malpractice by calling the man they shewed from their door for not bring enough money to get them out of a tight spot, untrustworthy.

  61. Hello Joe,
    Long time reader; first time commenting.

    I agree with your view that this is a real mess and there aren’t going to be any winners in this.
    On the other hand; i’m afraid i’m completely with Guido on this one.
    If you have a written contract with someone, and that person just say’s “the hell with it”, i’m pretty sure you would seek compensation as well.

    I know the mantra in F1 is “contract don’t mean anything”; but as a professional business, it’s about time contract do mean something

  62. Merhi seems to be confirmed only for the first races of the season, so maybe VDG could get a drive with them later. I do see his problem, and I guess what he and his backers want is a return on investment. And also they want to show they are not to be messed with. TBH I think his career in F1 is over ( I don’t really see much point in Manor), so perhaps he wants the money to drive in sportscar or indycar.

    I can not really feel sorry for Sauber in this case, as they really just messed up big time. Desperate times etc. but still…

  63. “I really don’t see what Van der Garde has to gain from going on down this path.”

    A seat in an F1 car with potential to score points.

    Clearly, this is his primary motivation. He wants to have an F1 career. He knows he can’t afford to sit out an another season.

    The only thing Sauber are trying to argue now is safety, which everyone knows is ridiculous when looking at other past and present situations. I sympathize with their money problems, but the fact is that they have dealt with this very badly.

    What a mess.

  64. What a shambles. Not a great start or look for F1. Now sauber to appeal I believe.
    Solutions:
    Paper,rock,sizzors.
    Two long straws one short straw
    One two seater promotional race car plus one race car
    Ummmm……..

  65. Another part of the tangled Web is that it will be difficult to fire Monisha K since the award of substantial shares in the team.

    Assuming this goes logically (hmm!) and restitution in terms of a drive is ruled out for a combination of reasons plus the FIA gently backing the status quo on safety matters… Then a solution to compensation may need to be found. Something tells me a vdG will be after a symbolic gesture as much as monetary…

    Tin foil hat on he’s not after MK’ s shares is he?!

    Now that would change my view of him quite a bit… Revised to devious bugger actually…But that’s not happened yet.

    What’s missing in all of this exceptionally is the big picture:

    The big picture is not about Sauber, it’s whether F1 can afford to be the home of “worthless contracts” any more.

    Aggravating a litigious well funded party is a pure fire way of letting the skeletons out for a breath of air, unfortunately… But spinning it as making the as per ruling aggrieved party to be suspect is almost flinging the cupboard doors open. Almost. It is true however that in a murky world of deals one should beware of someone unfairly wronged with little to lose.

    The headache is much more serious than just whether anyone can come in and drive at this late stage, that’s for sure.

  66. Yet another bigger picture problem this creates is if the powers that be side with the team, that’s signalling a very uncool message to pay drivers who now in fact are a market essential to the survival of F1 in its present form.

    This is a very costly affair indeed.

  67. Joe – was a contract signed by Sauber/VDG for a Race Seat in 2015?

    If it was then Sauber are in breach and would have to pay damages.

    If not then VDG should not have a case and Sauber ought to win the appeal.

  68. My gut feel is that some people aren’t used to being told ‘no’… Whilst Giedo – who I don’t know at all, seems nice enough, suggests the haughty demeanour of someone who’s had a slightly too easy ride in life to date – perhaps he has a case – but life’s tough sometimes. If he was a truly stand-out driver he wouldn’t be in this position.

    So to what extent is this about right vs pride?

    I agree with you Joe that the least messy way forward is to ignore the ruling and hope that at some level in the ensuing logical progression of events someone neutral will question whether it is worth it.

  69. Hello Joe…I think Sauber needs to open up and tell straight to Guiedo the reasons, and quit the pouring excuses like the car not being ready for another pilot and the dangers in this because in 2011 when Sergio Perez was injured in Monaco, de la Rosa made one-off return to Sauber as a substitute driver for the Canadian Grand Prix at last minute and nobody said the car wasn’t fitted to the pilots requirements and that it will be a potential death or injury risk.

        1. Sorry…I posted this yesterday an it appears that a problem occured …

          P.D’.
          Your comment is awaiting moderation.

          Hello Joe…I think Sauber needs to open up and tell straight to Guiedo the reasons, and quit the pouring excuses like the car not being ready for another pilot and the dangers in this because in 2011 when Sergio Perez was injured in Monaco, de la Rosa made one-off return to Sauber as a substitute driver for the Canadian Grand Prix at last minute and nobody said the car wasn’t fitted to the pilots requirements and that it will be a potential death or injury risk.

          1. Sauber has always been considered as a very ethical team. What happened last year was a desperate measure to keep the team alive. That does not make it right, but one can also argue that keeping the team alive is not wrong. The court is bound to say that Giedo’s contract is valid, but rules are rules and if he did not get a super licence then what can they do?

            1. As I understand it a temporary super license can be obtained in a matter of hours. Charlie Whiting has confirmed that the super license issue will not be a problem for this weekend for VDG. Also, it is the team’s responsibility to file the superlicense paperwork – and having lost the original arbitrary case in Switzerland back in December it can hardly be said the team has not had sufficient notice to obtain the license and indeed perform the seat fitting. That they chose not to was probably deliberate because they thought it would strengthen their case if it went to a Supreme court, which it has done.

  70. Hi Joe,

    I really like to read your blog, but i think do got it quite wrong here. Sauber already had a lot of money from Giedo in the 2014 season when he was the test driver, and knew how much money he could bring in for 2015 as soon as they signed the racedriver contract for 2015. That other people could bring more money ( Ericsson and Nasr ) is not HIS problem, it is the problem from the team. If you got a boss and contract for a job, and your boss tells you suddenly that somebody else has your job, you would be pissed to and fight it out in court! I fully agree with you that finding an solution won’t be easy, but just to let Sauber know that they should respect a contract, i hope Giedo will be in the car this weekend!

  71. At 29 Giedo would surely have a seat somewhere if he had the required talent, smacks a little of the last throw of the dice for his F1 career.

  72. Off topic, but the BT / Williams presser is worthy of a giggle or two. Allowing the word illustrious and BT are rarely found in the same parsec. But, but. This is how you sell sponsorship! So that a buyer can get away with such language because the team can claim such adjectives for themselves. At least it’s a sign of traditional sales skills being applied, which signs have been sorely lacking of late up and down the grid.

  73. He had a valid contract, of course he feels “aggrieved”. The crazy little world of F1 must come closer to reality. They made a deal, they can’t undo it with no negotiation just because they are a F1 team. Who do they think they are? I’ve always sympathized with Sauber but, without Peter, it lost it’s soul.

  74. Us Dutch have an expression: a cornered cat makes weird leaps. With Merhi taking the drive at Manor (and presuming that was known to vdG’s management) Geido probably felt cornered and decided to jump. Utterances in the media about him being convinced that there would be no problem between him and Suaber if he ran in Oz, while a PR necessity, do not help make his judgement look particularly sane (which is what the expression is meant to convey: in times of panic, sound judgement is the first to go). Given that Ericsson has effectively already paid for his seat and that Nasr’s sponsor Banco do Brasil is very prominently featured on the car, there seems little room to manoeuvre for Sauber. Maybe some sort of Caterham-esque time-share deal where Giedo gets to drive in a few races replacing either of the other drivers.

    Any way you cut it, Giedo’s career in F1 is now probably over for good. Poisoned chalice.

  75. I actually don’t know what personally to make me this trouble.

    I am no fan nor supporter of Guido van der Guarde and would care less about him were I not convinced that he got short shrift.

    What has shocked me is the sheer ineptitude of management which must question the entire management structure at Sauber because it’s clear something is entirely lacking in basic risk oversight.

    If I owned shares significantly I’d be on a war path about this clear malfunction.

    Unlike for her ex driver, I’ve actually been a fan of Monisha since she was appointed chief.

    Yet I am at this time uncertain how she can survive.

    I’m thinking about her petulance in a reported outburst that mentioned ” worthless contracts” in direct reply to question about this problem.

    Without the benefit of tape I cannot know how she meant that. Sometimes you really need to be there.

    Was that petulance out of frustration with Guido being a prick at negotiations?

    Or is prick just a matter of perspective, and I’m this case the prick was entirely right and that was what was frustrating?

    One thing is certain: there exist public court records.

    So there is no need to report ” word” when there is evidence to be known. Until u.3 dysfunctional F1 media estate go get the filings they should not speculate at all. There’s facts to report instead of private words from ahem trusted sources.

    The absence of factual reporting….

    Oh heck this mess really is showing up every quarter of F1 for a dingo isn’t it?

  76. Maybe GvG initially attempted to work something out with Sauber and was essentially told to go away at which point it became “I’ll show them”…

  77. Seems to me that Sauber need to be writing better contracts, that offer them get out clauses in various scenarios. Also I don’t buy the excuse that it is unsafe to put him in the car. He has a super licence, and Formula 1 and Grand Prix experience.

  78. All’s fair in love and war . . ?
    Tilting at windmills . . ?

    May the F1 farce be with us once again.

    Personally, I feel that Sauber should damn well ‘pay Van der Garde to go away’. Their current backers can foot the bill as they should have been aware of the contract they were helping to break.

      1. With difficulty, to be sure.
        However, I would expect a competent manager with a legal background to put a starting offer on the table.

      2. there will be some actual damages in the tort for it to have succeeded and then you look to precedent and potentially punitive damages for failing to honor the deal until too late to restitute.

        I’d say it’s a multiple of any benefit to Guarde over five years at least times a punitive multiplier.

        When there’s a party who willfully obstruct any chance of mitigation even for themselves that party tends to get hammered by a court.

        This really could be devastating to team Sauber.

        I don’t get how you can argue there’s nothing fair in life when there’s a principle of equity and proportionality which says in extremis that if you take a irreplaceable thing from someone unfairly then you are liable to severe punishment.

        damages will be in line with what ought to be given out by a court which is unlawfully frustrated, as opposed to any value of the drive. The cost of non compliance with law is a much harder calculation.

  79. Sauber is trying to argue that Van der Garde will present an unacceptable safety risk as he has not driven the car and it has been tailored to fit the other drivers.

    Coming from a team who parachuted a previous driver (who was working for another team at the time) into a seat mid-season (mid-session, even) in 2011?

    I don’t want to say it, but the only way I can see this being resolved is for Monisha to go – people have been sacked from other F1 teams for less and the team just seems to be bumbling from one financial or managerial disaster to another.

      1. Oh, his Formula 1 car of course. I don’t think Sauber would stoop to that position and remove the spark plug housing from his personal car, I hope…

    1. Actually, to be fair to Giedo he is not rich and never has been. However his wife’s family is very rich.

  80. The general feeling at the time was that Giedo had missed a payment, or failed to fulfil obligations to find sponsors, so Sauber were free to drop him. You can’t really blame Giedo for kicking up a fuss. Sauber are struggling, 40% of the grid are struggling. 2 are under funded, with a lack of sponsors. One is fully funded, but up for sale. Caterham has gone off to live with Simtek, Arrows and Prost, and is the most expensive failed team in F1 history. So far…

  81. A deal is a deal. If you unilaterally ignore a contract, in any line of business, you can expect to get sued. Even if Van der Garde was willing to let Sauber get away with this for the sake of goodwill in the paddock, I’d be surprised if his sponsors (and father-in-law) would be willing to let Sauber off the hook. From their POV, what the sponsors were paying for in year one, was the guarantee of their guy being one of the public faces of an F1 team in year two so they could then reap the greater marketing benefits. They have been unilaterally, and through no fault of their own, denied those benefits. Of course they’re going to sue. For Sauber to think otherwise is to be detached from the reality of the business world (as opposed to the F1 world).

  82. Joe,

    I understand everything you state in the article, however it seems to me that this is a situation that has occurred in Formula One for far too long. One of the machinists on the team, or a junior engineer, having signed a contract would be expected to honor it, and the team their end.

    For too long it seems the situation concerning one being a driver has been different, why? If anything, being “the talent” the contracts should be more ‘honorable’ and ‘fulfilled’ than not. Yet this has become the normal course of events, to treat contracts as one would treat a napkin or toilet paper.

    It’s obviously just my opinion, but I feel Geido was and is 100% correct in this circumstance and that Sauber have backed themselves into a corner by their own choice. They can cut off their nose to spite their face but that would just be stupid.

    I am glad someone has finally made a stand against this practice of treating contracts as nothing more than a piece of paper. Monisha was too smart for her own good in this case, and whatever Sauber reaps, they deserve. They had a choice and still do, either pay back the monies (or arbitrate a figure of dual consent) or provide a drive. Simple as that. The FIA said so, the Swedish court said so, and now the Victoria, Australia court has confirmed it.

    Sauber made their own bed, now its time to take a nice long sleep in it. I believe this is even more just if as has been reported, it was partly Geido’s money that helped them even survive last year.

    Steven

  83. I’m an employment advisor for a living, giving advice to employees about their employment rights and what they can do in certain situations. I am regularly faced with ex-employees wanting to claim unfair dismissal – some don’t qualify for the right (in the UK you need to have 2 years service with your employer before you qualify for the right to make an unfair dismissal claim), some do but seem to have a strange idea of what an employer/employee relationship actually is, whilst there are others who genuinely appear to have been treated appallingly by their employers and have a genuine grievance which they could pursue.

    In many instances – particularly in cases where they don’t qualify for the right to claim unfair dismissal – but also where they think they have a right to some sort of recompense (but sometimes from their manor and demeanour and what they say, you can understand, within a very short time, exactly why the employer has dismissed them), although I am not allowed to say it, I’m aching to tell them: “Rule a line under it, turn around and walk away and get on with the rest of your life.”

    And that’s what I want to say to Van der Garde right now.

  84. They need to kill him with kindness. A public apology, a small equity stake in the team, a test and reserve role, and a share of any incremental prize money if the team finishes higher in 2015 than in 2014 would seem a sensible start.

  85. Does this situation not condemn F1 ?

    It is the norm that contracts are ignored and people bought off. So when one guy stands up and insists on his legal right (as has now been confirmed by two separate courts) he is condemned and will ”
    never work again in this town mister” (he may never play the piano again either)

    Giedo van der Garde may gain nothing personally or financially, except maybe his deposit back, but he should be hailed as a hero for exposing the blatant hypocrisy of the teams in their treatment of drivers.

    Shame on Sauber! Yes as Joe says they needed to do it but they should have bought off Giedo first. Ah, but they didn’t have the money to do so, why was that?
    A lack of sponsors, once again we come back to the real reasons. Reduced audience because of pay tv deals, subsequent loss of attraction for advertisers, hence less money spent on sponsorship. More money for FOM, they don’t care, they don’t promote they just take.
    So in short, “Bernie” its all your fault!

  86. I can’t imagine a scenario where Giedo actually drives the car in Australia, surely Sauber would send him out to the grid with half a gallon of fuel in the car and concentrate on the driver they want.

  87. I am surprised Sauber did not control the option clauses in the contract, did GVDG pay any money with regard to 2015…….Does he in fact have any money?……….well i am sure Sauber will appeal so allowing this weekend to operate as planned, the case will then be moved one would think to Europe as I can not see both parties wanting to travel all the way back to OZ and in that event the case can be delayed as such until the end of the season when it then becomes pointless if one is to believe that this is all about the seat and career prospects………..

  88. Could we see Sauber put him into a development driver role? That way he is still signed to the team albeit not in a race driver capacity… or is his contract specifically for a race seat?

  89. If an Employer in any other profession treated a contracted employee in the manner that Giedo van der Garde was, they’d be forced to compensate him for loss of earnings. And since Giedo’s chances of driving in Formula One ever again are severely compromised as a result to his legal action, and the likelihood that the teams will close ranks to send a warning to other drivers thinking of asserting their rights. Then I think he is also entitled to claim for the loss of future earnings. Ted Kravitz also suggested that the team might choose to refuse to start up the car under some technical pretext. Should Sauber actually choose that course of action then we’re talking about ‘Bullying and Intimidation in the work place.’ Something Sauber, and their sponsors might choose to ponder. I couldn’t imagine any of the big teams pulling a stunt like that on Alonso or Hamilton.

    1. How can Sauber be liable for loss of future earnings, when it is GVDG’s decision to sue Sauber, and it is this decision that may have an impact on his potential future earnings. I can see how Sauber might be liable for what GVDG would have earned had the contract be fulfilled, but beyond that, I don’t see it.

      1. Loss of (promised) opportunity to compete in the FIA World Driver’s Championship in what looks to be a solid mid-field car. It’s not loss of income, it’s damage to his reputation and career.

      2. Even if someone else is paying for your F1 seat, they’re not doing it out of the goodness of their heart. The one paying does it because it is of value to them.

        PDVSA feel the value of having Maldonado in F1 is worth £45m or whatever it is they pay these days. How they feel they’d get a return on their investment, whether it’s straightforward advertising, goodwill for their brand, favourable deals etc is up to them, but obviously there are enough benefits to having your own driver in F1 that there are numerous parties willing to pay millions every year for the honour.

        If GVDG’s backer is as rich as we hear then obviously he doesn’t need the money, and this isn’t about getting a fair wage.

        This is speculation on my part, but I would guess that his party have already given money to Sauber on the understanding that he would get a drive, which has now been denied. But since the case is about his driving contract, the sponsorship deal probably hasn’t specifically stated that he had to have a seat (which could be against the rules), and therefore this is their way of gaining recompense. That’s probably how this whole situation arose, with Sauber’s management thinking “Well, technically he doesn’t have to drive, so…”

        1. And just to add, I would strongly disagree with the assertion in the article that this would bode ill for GVDG’s career prospects. A pay driver will always get a seat as long as there are teams that want one to boost their budget; and he & his party have done nothing wrong. It’s business, and they’re showing that they’ll stick to what is agreed.

          Sauber’s management, on the other hand, have significantly harmed their future prospects because they’ve shown that they’re a risky investment for anyone who backs a pay driver.

    2. is he technically an employee with the same rights as a permanent employee if he is paying to be there. it’s business to business relationship surely?

  90. Had Guido been offered in January to take his money to a team that he felt might be more competitive than Sauber, e.g. Force India, do you think Sauber would have sued him for breach of contract?
    The answer is obvious and it is “Yes”; Van der Garde is doing exactly the right thing.

  91. Sauber run a professional team. If they were legally instructed to provide a drive for Van der Garde, they’d put the disagreement behind them and get on with the job of scoring points. Racing teams work with drivers they don’t like every day of the week.

    The waffle about the car being unsuited to Van der Garde is nonsense. The car is suited enough for a third or fourth driver to substitute if the regulars are unavailable. I looked up Van der Garde’s weight and height (GP2 stats): six foot tall, 11 stone, rather like Marcus Ericsson in fact.

    And if a star driver fell out with his team and offered to drive for Sauber, how long would it take them to fit out the car for him? 48 hours?

  92. What is interesting, according to an article I read somewhere, is that this not the first time Van der Garde has resorted to the courts to resolve a similar issue.

  93. I don’t agree with you Joe when you say that other teams will be wary of doing any deals with him. He has a contract, so if other teams do plan to go back on their word, then why would ANY driver want to do any deals with them? This is valid both ways, and it’s Sauber who went back on their word.
    It looks to me that you see Giedo guilty here for claiming something that was agreed and signed on.

    Yes, the team will be in great danger probably with no funds for 2015, but they could’ve tried to be more understanding with Giedo. Maybe offer him the reserve role and quite a few Friday sesions. Otherwise, if I would be dismissed like Giedo was, I would do the same to Sauber.

  94. Joe, you are always making the case (and it’s a good case) that people should always tell the truth and that liars should be accountable and suffer the consequences of their dishonesty. So I am a bit surprised that you are in a way supportive of what Sauber did.
    As I understand, Van Der Garde found out in the press that Sauber announced other drivers when he had a valid contract. If that is how Sauber operates, then it has no business being in this business. It should just close shop or sell. It is disgraceful to operate in such a way. They were very dishonest and now they are paying for it. Not only were they unethical, now it has been proven that what they did was illegal as well. Sauber is bringing the sport into disrepute.

    1. Look, Sauber did wrong. Fine. But why? Is saving the jobs of 330 people more important than giving some billionaire’s son-in-law a car? It’s easy to judge and say Bad Monisha, but is it wrong?

      1. The actions may be justified to save the jobs of others and to this the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one. But Giedo has a right to hold Sauber to their end of the deal.
        Although I cannot see that they would welcome him back as he stated in the press and why would you want to work somewhere you are not wanted?

      2. Yes Joe, it’s is wrong. They have taken clear advantage of their perceived power to simply dump Geido and no doubt assumed there was little or nothing he could do about it. I recall at the time Monisha simply refused to comment whereas had she been open and explained the difficulty she was facing and it is possible options could have been explored. Sauber appear to have taken no steps to seek to reconcile their difficulty and have further failed to put their hands up and explain themselves. I doubt it is simply a case of pitting the future of the team against one contract and they must have known they were leaving themselves wide open to a claim with probably similar costs consequences to any benefit gained. I have always thought Peter Sauber to be a straight forward fellow but this mess has damaged his teams reputation, and F1’s also if that is possible these days.

      3. Where do you draw the line, for the sake of 300 jobs? These kinds of news, which place the whole ugly issue of pay-drivers in the limelight, are very bad for the sport’s image.

      4. Well Joe, thats not Giedo’s problem, that comes with mismanagement and spending more cash then they should. They knew when they signed a contract with Giedo what his money would buy them. Spending more is a case of mismanagement.

        Is it Giedo’s fault that the lawsuit might bring Sauber in a very though spot ? Or is that all up to Sauber for giving out contracts like its candy to a bunch of drivers ?

        Giedo did not became a karting world champion because he’s a billionaire’s son-in-law.

        1. Giedo is a decent driver. A decent bloke. It is not fair what has happened to him. But, what choice was there? It is all very well to say the law is the law and same that being realistic is bad, but if the team is dead, Giedo has no drive… Sometimes the law cannot cover a situation. I am not saying that Sauber did right or wrong, I am saying that Sauber is still there.

      5. What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. As to what the punishment should be remains to be seen.

      6. Pat Symonds has argued that the fake Renault crash in Singapore 2008 occurred because the team needed a result to keep the boat afloat. Briatore and Symonds allegedly created an incident which may have kept a few people in their jobs, until the story broke.

        I’m not having a go at you, Joe. Or having a go at Sauber. But what is the ethical limit to keep the F1 show on the road?

      7. Yes it is, they made a contract in good faith.

        There are a lot of alternative ways to save or generate money before people lose jobs. And you are trying to distort and twist by making it rich billionaire son in law causing possible job losses. Is this what going to every grand prix gets you? Journalistic advantage to try and twist a story to suit your own perspective?

        It is fundamentally wrong to take money and then not honor the contract and for you to question the morality of that is quite shocking.

      8. This utter nonsense Joe! A deal is a deal, and it’s been struck in good faith. To say the deal is relative on account of one of its parts being a “billionaire” is simply absurd. A person has rights and should be threated accordingly regardless of his/hers financial success. I suggest you schedule a trip to Cuba or Venezuela…

        1. It is not nonsense. Sauber was going to go out of business. Ericsson’s money saved the day. They may not have said that in court but that is the reality. We have had Marussia and Caterham already. It is not over yet… The sport is in deep trouble and this is why we are seeing desperate measures like this and Carmen Jorda…

      9. Joe, where do you draw the line though? Clearly we have overlooked some unethical decisions in the past because they helped teams stay afloat (pay drivers with no talent being one of them). But when you step into illegality, how can that still be justified? I can understand the motivations behind it but there is a line and Sauber clearly went beyond what they are allowed to do. Sooner of later they have to be held accountable because otherwise, “we can do anything we want because otherwise people lose jobs” becomes the excuse for anything unethical.

      10. Yes, it’s wrong. I understand the likely reason as to why they did it, and I really hope that jobs aren’t lost as a result of it, however the fact remains that Sauber have broken a legal contract. It may have been deemed the lesser of two evils, but that doesn’t make it right.

        Sauber have handled the situation badly. They should have negotiated some sort of contract release with Giedo van der Garde, or found a loophole in his contract with which to nullify it, before they replaced him.

      11. Give a little whistle
        WhiWhoo……
        Give a little whistle
        WhiWhoo…..
        …………….And always let your conscience be your guide!

        And another thing, “Why is it my comments are only posted long after all the ones that come later?

        JC

        1. Because I am earning a living and not using my time doing things that pay nothing. I am writing this at 01.07 because I want to answer questions. But what exactly do I get from this?

      12. So if you are really poor and hungry, it’s ok to steal food ? Come on Joe, a contract is a contract. It’s not GvdG’s responsibility to save Sauber. They should have resolved his contract before signing any new drivers. Hard to believe Kaltenborn got herself into this mess considering her background. Big error of judgement.

      13. Well the Courts in Switzerland and Australia seem to think it is blatantly wrong what Sauber did, so who are we to question that.

        VdG’s F1-career already peaked and in that respect this won’t harm his F1-career, because that was dead in the water anyway without Sauber. And as far as I can tell from people who regularly speaks to for example GP2 and GO3 team bosses and generally the mood towards VdG is quite sympathetic actually. It is about time that someone stand up for once.

      14. Joe . Overall I’d agree . But unless you’re willing to accept ” The Ends Justifies the Means ” with all the inherit consequences that go with that zeitgeist .. there’s no getting around the fact that A Contract is a Contract .. legally binding .. no escape clause … if you want out … you pay the penalty … or suffer the consequences therein

        As to VdG … the courts have just ruled he must drive . Sauber is of course appealing the decision … but in all honesty ? Should the case proceed to the Swiss courts .. along with Sutil’s ? God help Sauber is all I can say . Because guaranteed the Swiss courts will have Peter and Company roasting over a bed of hot coals on the way to non-existance faster than you can say Peter Sauber .

        In the end though it is all Sauber and their very unprofessional as well as unethical behavior [ not to mention very poor legal advice especially in light of their opponents extremely deep pockets … remembering in a court of law more often than not ” Might makes Right ” .. unfortunately .. so when might is combined with being right .. which both Sutil and VdG are … well … look out ! ] that have placed Sauber between the proverbial ‘ Rock and a Hard Place ‘

        In closing I’ll reiterate . Knowing what I’ve ‘ known ‘ about the Peter Sauber of the past … I am completely and thoroughly disgusted with the Peter Sauber [ and Company ] of the present .

        Suffice it to say … at the point one is willing to sacrifice ones principals in order to guarantee ones survival … at that point ones survival becomes more questionable than ever . [ paraphrased from a quote by GK Chesterton ]

        All bets now in light of all this ? Sauber F1 demoted to the relegation bin of history .. by seasons end . By their own hand … unfortunately !

      15. Well Joe, at least they should have informed them before signing Nasr.
        Be open and honest with the driver you have; tell hem he story; give him the option to raise more money and stay in business together with GvdG.

        Somehow I think Sauber did not do it this way. Than again; why did the CRB not act? What is their role in this?
        Can Sauber sign a third (or fourth) racing driver when there are already 2 valid contracts for race drivers signed?

        Or is the CRB only acting on behalf of the teams?

      16. Yes it is, because Van Der Garde have a contract. So we don’t care why Sauber did this, they were wrong so now thet have to pay the price of their action. You can’t brake any contract like you want.

        It’s not because you have a good reason that you can disrespect the law. It’s easy to judge yes, but it was easier for Kaltenborn to send to Sutil and Van Den Garde a text message to tell them they are fired. Very classy..

        It’s like i want to buy a very expensive car, i have no money so i take a loan for it, and then 4 or 5 month after, i have no money for me or my kids, so i decide to rob a bank. And for my defense i would say ” it was because i have no money for my kids and myself ” … Is it right ?

        Two seats, 4 drivers under contract.. I’m sorry but it is stupid. Especially when you are a lawyer like Kaltenborn, and you are saying during the winter ” everything is fine, we have two drivers, Erikssen and Nasr, i know what i’m doing ” .

      17. They are not doing charity Joe, They want to stay in business to make money! Why should Giedo let it go if he gets screwed by Sauber over money…Sauber has damaged his career. To be honest he wasn’t really a bad driver first time out and if teams will afraid to do business with him in the future. Then they themselves shouldn’t screw over upcoming drivers or any such employee in their company for that matter. I have no sympathy for Sauber. They should pay up his dues for ruining his career. They shouldn’t be in F1 if they don’t have money!

      18. This sounds like an Oxbridge admissions question, kinda like “would a good liar make a good lawyer?”

        Hang-on a minute, isn’t Monisha a lawyer?

      19. But Sauber could’ve offered Giedo the reserve role and also 6-7 Friday outings instead of the regular 2-3 per season. That together with a full explanation of why they got another driver to replace him might’ve gone a long way with Giedo.

      20. Pragmatism vs. ethics… lovely stuff!

        I guess pragmatism saves the jobs of 330 people, but when it also jeopardizes them (if significant damages are awarded to VDG) then there will be a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

        I would have thought that Monisha could have had some form of discussion with VDG a lot earlier and explained the situation and negotiated a deal with him… seems like the $$$ signs got in the way of acting ethically…

        Perhaps the CEO should ‘fall on her sword’ and take the blame, perhaps that would protect the jobs of the 330? I know that is unlikely to happen…

      21. Yes I think it is wrong, it comes across as an outright fraudulent act.

        You pay us in 2014, and you can drive next year in 2015 (and I have to assume he had a budget for this year). I have to believe Sauber lost the case in Switzerland because there must have been contract language linking his 2014 role and funding to the 2015 drive and money.

        They took his money for 2014 and now won’t live up to their contract obligation for 2015.

        Circumstances always change, they shouldn’t have tied his 2015 drive to his 2014 funding and contract.

          1. Proof of contract obligations in his 2014 contract regarding his driving in 2015? No, like all others, only what I’ve read, here and elsewhere; he allegedly tested in 2014 with the “understanding” (contractually is the question, as you point out) he would race this year with a certain budget.

      22. Yes, it is wrong. A contract is a contract, no matter if you are a “some billionaire’s son-in-law” or not. If it is correct that they not even tried to talk and settle with Van Der Garde first, then they acted like amateurs. I have always liked Peter Sauber and his team and until now I also liked Monisha K., but this get absolutely no support.

      23. One could argue that if GVDG and team paid Sauber x amount of funds last year in return for 2014 development drive and 2015 full drive that the 330 jobs still exist in part as a direct result of said funds.
        Selling more seats than are available is just plain wrong.
        Cannot imagine the furor if struggling hotels near the F1 circuits start to double book rooms on a prepaid basis and then tell some guests (selected based on a high disposable income level) that no room and no refund is available so that hotel staff can retain employment.
        A Swiss court has ruled against a Swiss F1 team as well as an Australian court.
        Hence my view from the outside looking in…just plain wrong.

      24. I refuse to hate VDG because he happens to have a rich father-in-law! Part of the process of dropping him should have included a conversation explaining the situation and negotiating terms to break his contract. His replacement should have expected buying out VDG’s contract as part of the deal!
        Sauber needed to carry the boycott conversation a bit further if they truly had no money to compete. Yet another example of why the pie needs to be re-sliced.
        Whether VDG ever drives again in F1, whether his in-laws are rich, whether he was/is a pay driver, whether Sauber is broke ….. ALL IRRELEVANT! They have a contract. The morality of either position makes no difference. We are talking legality. Hiding behind the moral highground of saving 330 jobs is still hiding.
        Tell Ferrari to give some of their “special bonus from F1” to pay off VDG.

      25. I find it a bit difficult to accept that, just because it keeps some people temporarily employed, it is suddenly acceptable to start behaving in an unethical manner.

      26. Yes, it is. And quite frankly, based on the arguments you put forward in this place on how Formula 1 ought to be governed and why (to which I wholeheartedly agree) I’m amazed that you feel that way.

        Is van der Garde’s case unusual? No, these situations have happened before in F1. The only difference is that his backer has the means and willingness to see this through in court.

        The jobs of 330 people are on the line here and that’s the tragedy is should they lose their jobs. But if that happens it’s not because of van der Garde. It’s because of the situation F1 is currently in…

        1. We do not always live in a perfect world. But if Marcus Ericsson had not come along, Sauber would not be there…

      27. The question is, did Sauber take the rumored 10 million euros from van der Garde? If so, then Sauber has committed fraud. If I understand correctly, the first van der Garde heard about this was when they announced Nasr.

        I understand the financial hole the team is in, but you can’t fix a financial hole by arbitrarily deciding to ignore your contracts (well you can, but you have to go into administration / bankruptcy to pull it off usually).

        Ethically, it’s questionable. Legally, it’s wrong. Ultimately, it could mean the end of Sauber as a going concern.

      28. That’s hardly the point though joe and something even giedo would understand as a principle. The issue is on how they handled this and if I was one of their employees I would feel ashamed and look over my shoulders at an employer that one day is going to do that to me. They had a choice to let giedo match the 11th hour offer in the knowledge that it meant they would be seen as already having perhaps breached his contract and his trust. That is how it should have been done and Monica and her team have been making some bad judgement calls with Russians and now this.

      29. Well, businesses don’t exist to employ people, they exist to make money. Regardless, saving the jobs of 330 people is not Giedo’s responsibility. He signed a valid contract and it should be honored by all parties. Saving 330 jobs (and running a sustainable business) is Sauber’s responsibility. Breaking contracts is not the way to do it.

        Judging something like this based on the amount of money that the party being hurt has starts one down a VERY slippery slope.

        Simply, Sauber got themselves into this mess and now they have to get themselves out. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

      30. However it seems they took his money in order to survive. Saving jobs is important but you can’t conduct your affairs in a way that means you sign four pay drivers for two seats and then expect those drivers to take the blame for job loses with your company. If you steal from from someone, even to do the right thing (saving jobs) that doesn’t justify the original act nor make it the drivers fault when they bring legal action to enforce their rights.

        So yes, it is wrong.

        1. I do not believe that Sauber took money from VdG in June last year. Giedo was still denying the contract existed in August and September…

      31. Yes it is. Van Der Garde had a contract. That’s it. If anyone else broke a contract, they would be held accountable, just as Sauber should be. As an attorney, Kaltenborn knows what she did was wrong. Time to pay the piper. I think MK will be booted out in the long term for this debacle. Also, VDG wouldn’t have gone looking for another ride since he had a contract with Sauber. His career in F1 may very well be over due to this. I’m glad to see he is protecting his rights. I wonder if you think it would be fair if I, as a subscriber, stopped paying for your e magazine because someone else produced one cheaper even though I had agreed to pay for an entire year. I bet you’d squawk then!

      32. Yes it was was wrong of sauber but when it’s sink or swim I’m sure 99 per cent of people would have made exactly the same decision.

        Let’s face it , as I understand it if they hadn’t got the money when they did there potentially wouldn’t have been a team for Van der Garde to drive for anyway .

      33. Joe, that is for a judge to decide. Apparently Sauber can not make that point stick, otherwise they would have, surely.
        All I know is that they say that Ericson and Nasr bring millions, but I never heard/read them saying in court that without that money they cannot survive.

      34. Yes.

        Without a doubt.

        They knew when they signed the current drivers that VDG was under contract. Strike 1.

        When they lost the court case in Switzerland last year, they knew that they had to act. Either put him in the seat or sort the mess out via some sort of arrangement. They chose to do nothing. Strike 2.

        They lost the court case in Melbourne (enforcing the Swiss decision) because of their own lack of action and unwillingness to abide by a judicial decision. Strike 3.

        Now an appeal citing some flimsy safety nonsense? This whole saga is starting to sound more like “Days of our Lives” than a supposedly professional sport.

        Are you seriously suggesting that VDG should let Sauber take his money and screw him out of a job just because his father in law is rich? What if the funds he handed over came from a personal loan (e.g. Lauda). Would it have been OK then?

        The people responsible for the 330 staff are the management of Sauber, not VDG. It is an unfortunate situation all around, but it is neither his fault nor his responsibility.

          1. It doesn’t make any difference if you’re not driving for a team that does exist or a team that doesn’t exist. If Sauber can’t get their act together they don’t belong in F1. Simple as that.

            1. So, when we get to 12 cars what are you going to do? Because unless someone smart gets into action, that is where we are going…

              1. For the last decades it has always been a race between at most 4 teams, the others were there to fill up the field, to struggle and to die. So, with 12 cars the only difference will be less spilt petrol & rubber. The outcome will be exactly the same. Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton, take your pick.

      35. not about giving a car, it is more than that. It is wrong and unethical. Not a single brand is remotely interested to sponsor Sauber. Not after this display of honoring sponsorship / driver contracts..

      36. Joe, if Sauber is willing to shaft someone contributing millions to the coffers out of their contract, you best believe that the jobs of the 330 employees are irrelevant to them. To state that the breach of contract to “some billionaire’s son-in-law” isn’t as important as the employees/survival of the team ignores the fact that at the end of the day business is business; breaching a contract to such a degree via poor business practice means you are liable.

        I couldn’t care less about VDG, but on that same token, if I was in his shoes and I had the means to persue Sauber, I would.

      37. Lots of millionaire and billionaires sons in F1 – I guess we can’t really hold that against them. I get what you’re saying Joe re: saving jobs versus honouring contracts but how about if Flávio used it as an excuse back in the day for crashgate? We needed to score points or the team would fold? Or any instance where a team struggled and then did wrong to save it?

        You’ve also said that the law should apply to everyone and so I guess Sauber, if they broke a contract, should have to face the same consequences as if they were a few hundred million richer.

        1. Explain to my how you assess the damage done to GvdG. Before this he was an amiable pay-driver. After this he is a pay-driver who is not so amiable. Quantify that.

          1. I assess the damage in the same way any other reputational court does with contract disputes – by, as you’ve said before, employing the people who know best. I am not a lawyer – I assume the damages are an esoteric thing that all court cases facing slander/libel/loss of employment tend to face.

            I’m agreeing with your post title Joe – it’s a tangled web indeed – I just don’t think you can say ‘ok Sauber broke a contract for good reasons therefore screw the law.’ They had their day in court, they can afford lawyers to fight it. It’s sad all round but I would be uncomfortable if teams started throwing around ‘saving jobs’ or ‘driver safety’ as an excuse for cheating and/or breaking the law.

            1. I am not saying it is good or bad. I am explaining what is happening and why. Read it again and look at what I said.

      38. I really don’t care if he’s a billionaire’s son-in-law, and I don’t understand why that should be a factor in the discussion, unless it’s out of jealousy or to try to undermine him. Sauber obviously felt they could get away with taking his money and breaking their promise, and what we have here is a rare case of a driver who’s not putting up with the bullshit. Good for him! Maybe he feels strong because he’s wealthy – in which case I’m glad he married well.

        It’s so rare to see moral strength in F1, where most people seem to be running scared (mainly of Bernie) and prepared to do anything to win. I wish more people in F1 would speak their mind and stand up for what they think is right. You do, Joe, quite often, and we respect you for that. But I’ve noticed, when I’ve attended your audiences, that you don’t seem to hold drivers in high regard. In this case I think Van Der Garde deserves your respect.

      39. It doesn’t matter which one is more important. Nobody has the right to break contracts, even for “the greater good.”

          1. Could it perhaps be that this “loss of jobs” argument is just as lame an excuse as VDG being a deadly hazard on the track? (It also seems like you are trying to shift the blame.)

      40. Well, Renault are looking for a team so they can save the 300+ jobs, minus, Monisha of course and teams in future will be a little more decent when it comes to driver’s contracts. A billionaire’s son-in-law this time, a real injustice next time. This is a good decision and we should be happy the rule of law has been correctly applied.

      41. Well, it seems the manoeuvre only secured their jobs for a few month during the winter and gave them a few weeks breathing time, while the team was waiting for the contractual shit it created last autumn to hit the fan… Considering the current siuation, it didn’t really solve the teams problems, did it? There doesn’t seem to be a decent solution for this mess, unless “someone” hands Sauber a batch of money to pay vdG off.

        1. Kindly assess the damage done to GvdG, from a legal point of view. He was an amiable pay-driver. Now he is a less amiable pay-driver. What has he lost?

          1. Well Joe, he might be a pay driver; but he still paid in 2014 for a 2014/2015 packages. Therefore the 2014 sponsor money was paid with the knowledge of a racing seat in 2015.
            I can imagine that they want a part of the 2014 money back

          2. Of course, his career is done. Nobody is going to hire him anymore after what happened. But then, I doubt he would have gotten another seat anyhow. But that is really not the legal question. His backers signed a contract, they paid money, his backers want something for their money. If Sauber fraudulenty sold his seat to somebody else, that really is Sauber’s Problem, not vdG’s. Can’t blame vdG for that. If you can’t do your business without screwing over other people, you’ve got a problem, not the people you screw over. You can scream you did it for all the right reasons all day long. Sauber can claim to occupy the moral high ground because they are trying to save their failing company. That’s all well and good, but in the end only Sauber is responsible for the business decisions they took. You really can’t blame vdG and his sponsors for the financial and legal mess Sauber is in.

    2. I think Joe states pretty clearly that Sauber is to blame.

      That said, why doesn’t Kaltenborn get sacked for this – a hugely embarrassing, expensive screw-up? Are capable F1 team principals that rare? She certainly doesn’t help herself with her comment about jeopardising the “safety of our team.” When it was her actions that led directly to the current, untenable situation.

    3. I don’t see this as being all that different from Ferrari dumping Kimi to bring in Alonso. Kimi had a contract, but Ferrari basically told Kimi “here’s a bunch of money, now go away” and Kimi sucked it up and went away for a bit. The difference with Sauber is that either Van Der Garde wants more money to go away, or he’s unable to read between the lines and doesn’t want to go away.

  95. Joe,
    On what grounds does Australia have jurisdiction over a contract that was signed in another country with a team located in another country for a contract that almost certainly states which court disputes should be heard in with a driver from another country? Surely it will be overturned on that on appeal?

    That is like asking for a speeding ticket to be heard in another country that has a higher speed limit. The judges are not qualified to enforce the controlling law because they lack familiarity with that nations legal precedence. I am amazed frankly a judge would consider hearing it and not dismiss on those grounds.

  96. Joe, while you clearly lay out the practicality of Sauber’s necessity to extract the maximum financial benefit to participate in the 2015 F1 season, the fact remains that Van der Garde had a valid contract in place. Sauber broke the terms of that contract. If we are to say that contracts take a back seat to pragmatism and changing circumstances, then contracts, be it in F1 or any other business, are worthless. Furthermore, all contracts have “exit” clauses – these clauses define the end of a relationship and dictates how both parties go their separate ways. Again, it would appear Sauber ignored whatever these exit clauses mandated.

    The alternative for Van der Garde would have been to do nothing, in which case, he would have likely forfeited any further opportunity to show what he is capable of (what we think of his ability is irrelevant). Consequently, his “backers” would then have moved on to another driver, or sport, in which to invest their money. Van der Garde, therefore, would have incurred damages as a result – both to his career and financially long-term. Frankly, he had no choice and no doubt laments the fact that it all came to this. Kudos to him for standing up for his rights.

    1. No. Will you? These things are not public information but they are what I believe to be true. That is all I can do. If I am wrong I am wrong. I have spent 25 years building relationships so I can answer questions but they don’t hand over contracts and say: “Hey Joe, take a look at this.” This is what I believe to be the case. I do not believe that Peter Sauber and Monisha are bad people. Far from it, but I do believe that they will do what is best for their people first and if that involves pain, then they must take the pain.

  97. If the courts have found that Sauber and van der Garde had a valid contract, it’s frankly up to Sauber to sort out the mess. If a commercial operation is allowed to ignore employment law when it comes to the driver, what security do the employees ever have?

  98. I don’t really buy saubers argument about safety – teams chop and change drivers mid season all the time, frequently putting in drivers that have no or limited running in the car

    indeed, Maclaren are running Magnusson in Australia in a car that has been built around Fernando Alonso

  99. “Thus when Felipe Nasr came along with more money than Van der Garde, it was the obvious solution to the problem.”

    Obvious solution????? not when you have already signed contracts promising a drive to other people.

    How in any way was this the obvious solution? and you have the wonderful gift of hindsight and still write this!

  100. Frustrating for all involved. Sad irony that the only team run by a lawyer has a mess like this, this year (conceding this issue pops up every two years it seems).

  101. I cannot believe Mr. S that you have such a lacadaisical attitude to the law. If Sauber was treading that close to the edge financially, at the end of 2014 that they had to sell a commodity that would enable them to stay afloat, and then do the same again at the beginning of 2015 to yet another party, all at the same time retaining monies that had already been paid under prior existing contracts,then I would say that they were in an unfit position to trade, and that to my knowledge is illegal. Then to ask “is it wrong” as 330 people’s jobs hang on this fraudulent behaviour because it is only money from “some billionaire’s son in law” that they have taken, I think you need to take a step back and have a rethink on your moral code, as to me it did not get on the plane with you to Aus. (That is, if you are there)

    1. Sorry, did you read what I wrote? Did I justify it. Did I say this is right and this is wrong? I am reporting what is happening.

  102. One of the problems here is that VDG probably overpaid last year to be the test driver because the contract called for him to be the race driver this year (think of last year’s payment as a down payment for this year’s race seat). Sauber dumped VDG when it found a bigger pay day from another driver for the race seat this year. So Sauber may well owe him a good portion of last year’s payment if he is not in the race seat this year (and of course, if he is in the race seat, VDG’s father-in-law is going to have to pay up for this years seat).

  103. I guess, Joe, in your world the ends justify the means. Sorry, they do not.

    Sauber should have negotiated a settlement . They did not. If you want to put blame on team going under, and jobs lost, the blame falls squarely on the management of Sauber and NOT VDG.

  104. I guess Giedo has now screwed the pooch. One way or another this should be the end of his F1 career. Unless of course he scores a bunch of points………

  105. I am a bit curious as to almost every reporter or blog carefully refraining themselves on the comments of sauber. Whilst in general i believe most f1 fans admires van der garde to stand up and fight for what he believes in.
    Also everyone having thoughts and questions … Why van der garde, what do you have as a gain etc etc But have you asked then these questions to van der garde himself? I could only find a small interview with him by Cooper. No one else!
    Mid season marussia allready had one point, a good accountant should have budgetted for 2015 with zero point as bottom line. Instead they took a gamble. Riskmanagement believing they would get away with it. As so many times in the past? Sorry why play the save 300 jobs angle against van der garde for such bad management?
    Play the save 300 jobs angle against mr E. And ask him for additional 10 mil and see what his reaction would be….

  106. I understand why sauber did what they did, don’t agree with it, and yes VDG doesn’t have financial worries, but this is how I see it. Mehri seems to have the flyaway races covered, but he has said he needs sponsors to make the Manor seat his for the season. With VDG having a valid contract to race, I presume that stops him from racing for another team. If that is the case, then sauber could have said he broke the deal and sue him. I know that sauber dumped him, but with all employment contracts, till something is resolved freeing VDG then he can’t sign for another team, I can see him at manor if this gets finalised. The whole situation is bad for all concerned, let’s hope things don’t drag on too much, even for F1 standards!

  107. Guess who?

    In December 2006, the Super Aguri F1 team signed a promising young Dutch driver (with money) to be its test and reserve driver for the 2007 season. On 1 February 2007, the same driver was announced as test and reserve driver for Spyker F1 – one day after testing the Super Aguri car for the first time and unbeknownst to Super Aguri, who had registered the driver’s contract with the Contract Recognition Board one week previously. The driver was prevented from testing the Spyker and gaining a superlicence until June 2007.

    What goes around come around.

    PS This article (http://www.grandprix.com/ns/ns17872.html) refers to van der Garde as a protege of Jos Verstappen – who was announced as an Arrows driver for 2002 in June 2001 and then ditched for Heinz-Harald Frentzen just before the 2002 season started. Arrows are reported to have won a subsequent court case with Verstappen regarding breach of contract; other sources suggest Verstappen won the case. Either way, it just goes to show that this sort of dispute is nothing new.

  108. Why is a team allowed to sign more than 2 racedrivers?? If this was not the case all the shit wasn’t neccesary…

  109. It’s fair enough that GVDG is sticking up for himself, and fair enough that Sauber did what what they did. The big mistake seems to be that Sauber failed to, or by the sounds of it, did not even bother to come to an amicable agreement with Giedo before announcing Nasr. Surly back in 2014 when the implications of the Bianchi incident came clear, everyone could have sat down and come to a bearable solution. For example, through the Ferrari link placing Giedo at Marrusia for a year, perhaps paying less for his seat. Whilst not as good a seat as Sauber, he & his management may have been reasonable enough people to accept the Marrusia seat for the sake of saving 300 jobs, then return to Sauber with his millions in 2016. It seems he did not get that opportunity. If that was the case, bad Monisha.

  110. Yes it is wrong. Sauber’s ridiculous defence using driver satey shows their tank is empty otherwise they would have used a defence that stood up. Keep going Giedo.

  111. Saving a company and the jobs of 300 people is more important than the job of one guy. Any judge would say that. But than you have to prove that you can save the company by doing this, by showing the numbers.

    Monisha didnt do that. She simply hired another guy and figured Giedo would walk away. That isnt the right thing to do and it is also very disrespectful. If they just would have showed the numbers en be respecful to Giedo, they would have found a solution.

  112. It would be interesting to know if either Nasr or Ericsson, prewarned by Sauber of the possibility of action by Van der Garde, have a clause in their contract whereby *they* (and not Sauber) pay for any damages awarded to Giedo for the loss of “his seat”.

  113. What compensation would Sauber have to pay him? I was under the impression that the he’d be paying the team for his drive. He can’t really sue for loss of earnings as he wouldn’t have earned anything anyway!

  114. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Sauber. Monisha is an attorney, for heaven’s sake and knowingly put the team at great risk. It wasn’t some innocent cock-up.

  115. Are you arguing that the ends justify the means? Or are you arguing that it’s okay to screw somebody if they’re “some billionaire’s son-in-law”?

    As to your question: what does Van der Garde have to gain from going on down this path?

    First off, I think the idea that Van Der Garde’s lawsuit will hurt his career going forward is open to debate. I think that there are plenty of people who’d argue that if he doesn’t get this Sauber seat his F1 career is over. But if he shows up with enough money in Indy, DTM, or the WEC, there’s likely a team that will give him a chance. But that means he’ll need money. So if his career in F1 is over, why not try and get some of his money back from Sauber? And if Sauber is forced to put him in the car, do you really think Sauber will sabotage him, given the money on the line, if he can contribute in even the smallest way to helping Sauber stay ahead of Manor (and maybe Force India). I like to think that the engineers and mechanics are professional racers who will do their best to help the driver (and team) regardless of how the driver got the seat. At this point, I think it’s pretty much a given that Van Der Garde will win his lawsuit, it’s just a question of whether he gets a seat, or money. Either way, I don’t think he’s got anything to lose.

    Secondly, even if the only solution is a settlement, then Van Der Garde HAS to make the legal argument that he wants that seat. If he doesn’t do that, then he can’t make the legal argument that he is owed damages or financial restitution. As I understand it, you sue to try and get the contract enforced, if the judge decides that it’s no longer possible to enforce the contract, then the judge can award restitution/damages to the aggrieved party. As strange as it may sound, that’s the way the legal game is played.

    Thirdly, Sauber is a for-profit business, not a charity. Just because it doesn’t have money now, doesn’t mean it won’t have money in the future. If Van Der Garde sues now, and is awarded damages, but Sauber can’t pay now, Van Der Garde, thru the court, can work out a deal where Sauber repays him at some point in the future (usually with interest). Essentially the settlement becomes a registered loan with a court ordered repayment plan. But if he doesn’t sue now, this option is off the table.

    As you’ve said, this situation is a right royal mess. And Sauber is, of course, to blame for this. Given the above three points, and that Sauber is clearly to blame, I think that it is rather unrealistic to expect Van Der Garde to quietly let Sauber screw him regardless of Monisha’s good intentions.

  116. Courts won’t order specific performace of personal services contracts. This is for a range of reasons including the reasons you allude to in your article. Even though the contract was held to be valid the Court won’t order the team let him drive at the AGP. His only option now will be to pursue the team for damages.

  117. BTW – there is a much more cynical way to look at this. You could surmise that this “right royal mess” was always part of the plan:

    Step One: Sauber needs money ASAP, so they take Marcus Ericsson’s upfront money. But they are still short of money.
    Step Two: Felipe Nasr has a bigger pot of money than Van Der Garde. So without any advance notice or discussion, Sauber kicks Van Der Garde to the curb and signs Nasr.
    Step Three: Ignore any attempt by Van Der Garde to resolve the matter quickly and amicably, because that would mean having to pay out a settlement immediately.
    Step Four: When Van Der Garde does eventually file the inevitable lawsuit, fight it vigorously, even if that means coming up with dubious safety concerns (if Manor can put Roberto Merhi into a car that was not tailored for him, why can’t Sauber). The longer the court case takes, the longer Sauber has to find the money to pay the settlement.
    Step Five: When the court finally rules in Van Der Garde’s favour, and orders Sauber to pay damages, Sauber tells the court they don’t have the money to pay. No court has ever forced a (potentially) viable business into bankruptcy, so the court will assign a mediator to try and get both parties to agree on a payment plan. This buys Sauber even more time before they actually have to pay Van Der Garde any money.
    Step Six: Eventually (sometime in 2016? 2017?) the court orders Sauber to pay Van Der Garde according to a court ordered plan that gives Sauber the opportunity to spread the settlement payments out over a long period of time. This method also gives Sauber the opportunity to petition to court to adjust the payment schedule if Sauber falls into further difficulty.

    In the long run, this costs Sauber more money, but it lets them put off paying Van Der Garde for a long time.

    1. When assessing damages a court must decide what damage has been done to Giedo Van der Garde. We do not know all the terms of the contract but he was bringing money. He was a pay-driver. He is still a pay-driver and his reputation has not changed. So where is the damage?

  118. … having just talked to the CH cousins … here’s the worst of it .

    What Peter Sauber / Sauber F! has done with this move is to put the entire business and banking world , not to mention drivers , contractors , engineers etc on notice … that ..

    A contract with Sauber or Sauber F1 is not worth the paper it is written on . Which in the long run [ as well as the short ] will serve to save no jobs … and more than likely wind up costing Sauber F1 [ and Peter’s ] future

  119. Joe,

    As always, well thought out piece.

    One does wonder what area of Law that Monisha Kaltenborn worked in, as she really should have seen this coming, and covered it.
    Anyway, looking at the problem Sauber now has, I think with the talk coming from them, Charlie Whiting – Race Director, might find something in his and Bernie’s book of rules, about putting Van der Garde in the car, which would be the easy option for Bernie and Sauber, and leave them to fight it out, somewhere else, before the next race.

    As for van der Garde, I think he has burned too many bridges for himself in F1; no one is willing to touch him, no matter how funding he might have behind him. Very short sighted policy on his part – or father-in-law part. Maybe father-in-law planned it this way, to keep his daughter happy.

  120. The background he’s from is not relevant. You can’t have you cake and eat it – If Sauber agreed to take his cash and they’ve now reneged on it they need to pay the price. Like Bren said if the boot was on the other foot there would be a very different outlook. If you want to drop a driver when more cash comes along then have some balls and PUT_IT_IN_THE_CONTRACT.

    The argument about the jobs is bizarre by the way. People pay for the price of their employers everyday and sad as it is you don’t get to faff around with the law just because your company employees people.

  121. Dear Joe, all
    I find it curious that he is doing this via the Australian legal system, when the team is based in Switzerland. Whatever the decision, will it be binding in Malaysia? Brazil? Russia?
    As to loss of future earnings- surely it could be argued that that he has far greater opportunity for earnings in the lesser formulae. (Though, after this, it may be the case of no-one wanting to touch him with a 40ft pole.)
    Seems to be a case of ‘Stop or I’ll shoot, whilst pointing the gun at one’s own head.
    Somehow, I just can’t see this being resolved in the courts before the start of quali at 5pm Sat.
    Somehow, I can’t imagine this being carried by one of Australia’s’no win, no fee’ law firms.
    Somehow, even if this strategy gets him on the grid for 2015, I’d be surprised if his name pops up at all in 2016.
    Somehow, if the teams were all getting a fair and reasonable share of the f1 revenue, I’d be surprised if side shows like this would be happening, nor potentially adding another layer to the tawdry side of F1’s reputation.
    Cheers
    MarkR

  122. I think one needs to look at this from Giedo’s perspective. Chances at F1 seats a few and far between. If he gets in the Sauber in 2015 he may impress enough to get the attention of more competitive teams and who knows where he might go from there. If he loses the chance this year to race, he may never get another chance again.

    So I think he has everything to gain and tbh not much to lose by fighting his position on this.

    I hear Giedo found about his being dropped when he read in a press release about his replacement. It seems the team had not even had the courtesy to approach him directly to tell him first!

    I have no wish to see Sauber or its 330 employees go under, really I don’t, but if they are to survive they should do so lawfully, not unlawfully and certainly not in such a despicable fashion.

    So what if Giedo has money and rich relatives. Does this make him less of a driver? I’d rather see how he performs in an F1 car and then judge him on his driving merits.

    My understanding having read what’s been made public about Justice Clyde Croft’s decision is that the court will enforce Sauber to let Giedo drive at this race and for the rest of 2015 – pending the appeal which I think is happening as I type this. If they fail to heed that order they will find themselves in contempt of a Supreme court which could land them in even deeper doo doos than they already are.

    I’m no expert though this is just my understanding from what I have read so far.

  123. I’ve lost a LOT of respect for Sauber over this. As Gary pointed out Sauber would have sued for compensation if it were the other way around. Absolutely disgusting conduct by the team & while I don’t want to see the team fold, I wouldn’t be sad to see it’s leaders go..
    I hope Van der Garde wins the appeal today as well.

  124. Dear Joe, all
    Just did a check around the news services- ABC News reports that the Victorian Supreme Court has ordered that Sauber must allow Van der Garde to drive, as per previous Swiss arbitration order, and, Sauber are appealing to the Court of Criminal Appeal.
    Van der Garde is quoted as saying ‘I had a good relationship, I still have a very good relationship with the team….’
    Yeah, I’m sure they were shouting him congratulatory drinks last night….
    Cheers
    MarkR

  125. This could all be over in a couple of hours through the courts anyway, but there’s at least one asset sauber can use to pay him off – shares in Dauber itself.

    If the options come down to declare bankruptcy of some kind or hand over 20% of the company, there’s only one reasonable choice.

    It’s clear that the VdG backers are business people first and foremost anyway

  126. Sorry but if I did not know better Joe I would think you are laying the blame at Van Der Garde’s feet. He has a valid contract, the fate of the 330 is the responsibility of Sauber management or lack of.

    Suaber would appear to want to do what is required to survive, while that is easily understood, the execution has left a lot to be desired.

  127. These are the people that want more say over the sport?
    CVC need to take even more money out for their investors. After all, saving the retirement money of many gray hairs, trumps the jobs of 330 people who chose to work for a shady outfit like sauber.

  128. Joe,

    I don’t think anyone is arguing that Sauber shouldn’t have hired two other drivers bringing more money if that was necessary to save the team.

    What people are upset about is that it appears Sauber just tossed aside VdG hoping that nobody would make a big deal out it.

    If the money VdG was bringing wasn’t enough to save the team they should have A giving him the chance to come up with more or B tell him his funding isn’t enough to have the team compete for a whole season. I doubt VdG would have really forced his contract if he knew it meant Sauber couldn’t go racing for a whole season so instead Sauber could have worked out some sort of financial arrangement and settle things in a acceptable manner.

    Sauber should have done the decent thing and tell VdG, not take his money, toss him aside and hope things would blow over. They deserve whatever they got coming.

    1. There are legal issuers and moral issues here, aren’t they? Legally GvdG may be right, but is it right for a team owner to shut down a team if it can be saved?

      1. Is it wrong for a racedriver who’s dream it is to drive F1 to pursue the legally binding contract he signed?

        1. No, it is not. However in the world of Realpolitik sometimes it is smartest not to say something. I fully understand GvdG and why he feels hard done by. I also understand why it happened. How does one judge who is right and wrong? Yes, a judge is right to say that legally GvdG is right, but the team would not be there if GvdG had been signed. Did anyone consider that this may be part of the story? Perhaps a Dutch billionaire wants to buy a team and the weaker the team, the lower the price? Did anyone think of that?

      2. Saved yes but only by acting in a manner that can only be seen as inappropriate or illegal, so survive at all costs? Really?

        Wow and to think I was going to subscribe. I would have expected a better thought through response. No no the show must go on…FFS

        If this is what Sauber must do to survive then they should fail. They wont be attracting any naming rights sponsorship anytime soon. The sooner the funding issues in F1 come to a head the better.

          1. Joe, I think it’s disrespectful to continually refer to VDG as “rich kid”. Just because he has strong financial backing it does not make him any less of a driver than a driver from a poorer background. I’d hope one would judge him on his driving merits, not on the financial situation of his relatives.

            If VDG’s sponsorship was insufficient then Sauber should not have signed the contract. VDG is not responsible for Sauber’s poor financial planning.

            I believe VDG is right both legally and morally. Of course it’s not wrong to want to save 330 jobs but Sauber broke the law in trying to do so and treated VDG in a despicable manner.

            Would you also saying robbing a bank would be a justifiable way for Sauber to save their team? What other illegal activities would be acceptable for Sauber to save their team?

            A business is required to operate lawfully, and should expect severe consequences if it does not.

            I feel sorry for the other two drivers one of whom will now have to be dropped to make way for VDG because this mess is no fault of theirs. And I feel sorry for the 330 employees of Sauber should this situation cause the business to fail.

            But I can’t feel sorry for Sauber themselves and certainly not their team principal who seems to have no respect for the law and a rather broken moral compass.

            Part of me hopes they do try to defy the Australian court judgement – so Monisha is held in contempt of court, thrown in jail and then maybe they can appoint a more ethical team principal.

            Wayne.

            1. If you read through all the comments you will see that I explained at one point that he was not a rich kid but had married into money. When the team signed VdG it is clear the sponsorship was deemed to be sufficient because Bianchi was going to bump the budget but once Jules was gone, it was a new ballgame. What is required here is a settlement of some kind but I doubt the parties could find one. So what is it about? Why are the Dutch contingent going on when they cannot really win (ignoring what is right and wrong)? There is more to this than meets the eye…

              1. I am not sure how you can say they cannot win. VdG already has won if he drives is Australia. The prize here is a seat in F1 and being one of only 20 drivers in the world to do this.

                The risk of other future prospective teams deeming VdG a troublemaker because of his legal action pale into insignificance compared to the possibility that this might be VdG’s one and only chance to get into F1 and the risk he may never get another chance.

                I do not believe there can or will be a settlement. The court has not ordered a settlement. They ordered Sauber to allow VdG to race- and they will be in contempt if they do anything less.

                Wayne.

      3. F1 was always about money, not about morals. Lots of money, that is. And out of the blue you want this little paydriver to waive his rights for “moral reasons” and for the good of other people? Come on…

      4. Sauber signing up four pay drivers for two seats is disingenuous and fraudulent. Basically, this was a Ponzi scheme to keep the ship afloat. Corporate honchos who cook accounting books to prop up companies –even it is was to preserve jobs of several thousand employees — go to jail. I don’t see how Sauber is on the right side of any moral issues.

        It was also disgraceful for Sauber to defend their position on the grounds of safety.

        1. It is not about what you say. It is about timing as well. Read what I wrote and understand what it meant. It is not as simple as you make it sound.

          1. Yes it is that simple. Would you defend Sauber robbing banks then? For the sake of 330 jobs? Because that’s what Saber did – STOLE from VDG by breaking the contract.
            They denied him opportunity to find other seat, they took his money without delivering, lied in courts using laughable arguments that the judges instantly dismissed, three times in fact, and now are trying to ruin his career by sniping his ability to drive at all – and you have the gall to claim they are somehow in the right?
            Even other teams and drivers laughed Sauber’s claims out of paddock, literally no one except you defended the poor little frauds…

              1. In a recent post I also made the robbing bank analogy before I even read the post above. So if thinking in such a way is silly, there must be something catching… 🙂

                I don’t see why the analogy is silly – who is to define which illegal activities are acceptable to try to save a team and which are not?

                Breaking the law is never an acceptable way to try to save a business.

                1. I break the law if I jaywalk in Melbourne. I break the law if I gun down a policeman. Spot the difference.

                  1. A good point but then you are not a business. And jaywalking is a very minor offense. Gunning down a policeman is a very serious offense.

                    Whereas breach of legal employment contract for a business and robbing banks are BOTH serious offenses. What Sauber have engaged in is a chain of pre-meditated choices to break the law. As a business that is not an acceptable way to try to save a team.

                    As it stands they will now have to drop one of their cash cow drivers, probably pay a host of court costs as the losing party, not to mention the prospect that whichever of Eriksson or Nasr are dropped may in turn sue Sauber for breach of their contract.

                    Far from saving the team – they seem to have done their best to destroy it.

                    If they’d handled VdG with more courtesy and consideration from the outset, they may have been able to arrive at an arrangement agreeable to everyone, save the team and be in none of the mess they are in now.

                    Wayne.

      5. There are and sauber could have avoided making a mess of both by talking to Vdg and paying him to give up his seat.

        1. I agree entirely. Sauber could have avoided this entire mess by treating VDG more courteously to begin with. I am sure if they properly explained the financial problems they faced after they lost Jules joining the team and the necessities behind the proposed driver changes – they may have been able to come up with a mutual agreement. But after having been treated like garbage who can blame VDG for pursuing his rights with the full force of the law.

      6. Once again, Joe, your moral compass is terribly off. You do not screw Peter (VDG) to pay Paul (keep Sauber and jobs afloat). The responsibility falls squarely on Sauber management for the mismanagement of the team and VDG paid good money for a service that the team decided to keep and not provide that service. It is no different then you providing me a copy of your magazine and me turning around and saying sorry I won’t pay you because I need the money to feed my dog. I doubt you’d be happy.

          1. Prove someone moral compass is way off. Now how do you go about that? Is it so hard to for once admit you were wrong?

            1. Say sorry tomorrow when I am right and you will win respect. If I am wrong I will accept I am wrong and will say so. I doubt most of the people posting will…

              1. I always thought that morals had nothing to do with being right or wrong in that sense bur rather with doing the right and honorable thing irrespective of the outcome. Van der Garde not being in the car tomorrow (and granted the chances are very slim indeed) says nothing at all about that being the morally right thing and doesn’t prove your moral compass is right. But I think you already know that.

          2. Prove what? You keep focusing on “one rich kid”. First, the rich kid paid good money for a service that wasn’t provided. So you think because he is rich it is okay to rip him off? You somehow think the greater good (the 300 jobs) justifies larceny. It does not.

            The ends never justify the means. If you do, the logical end point of this rational is that things like terrorism are “justified”.

            And, yes, to answer your question: sadly it is better to have one rich kid drive a car than 300 families have income rather than risk the system that allows society to function.

            1. No money. No team. No drive. In October last year Sauber needed money to survive. They got it from Ericsson.

              1. Then them’s the breaks: no team. C’est la vie.

                But you don’t get it, or more likely won’t admit it, that we all face hard choices in our lives everyday, like Sauber did. How you handle those tough decisions defines the nature of your character. Sauber’s character has been shown to be severely wanting in this situation. End of story.

                1. So you think it is better to leave 330 good people out of work? Come on. Nothing here is right, but wrong is worse.

                  1. I agree nothing good about this situation. But, and this is a big but for me, a wrong will never be worth the right. And with that, I think we will have to agree to disagree. I do commend you for your open discussion, and the time you’ve committed, to this sad, sad saga for F1. No matter the outcome it reflects poorly on the sport we are all clearly passionate about.

  129. on March 11, 2015 at 6:38 pm | ReplyOliver wells
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Yes it is wrong. Sauber’s ridiculous defence using driver safety shows their tank is empty otherwise they would have used a defence that stood up. Keep going Giedo.

    I see four posts since mine above yet I’m still waiting for moderation……

  130. I think you hit the nail on the head Joe when you said that GvdG’s legal action could make other teams wary of doing deals with him…

    This was possibly Sauber’s belief that he wouldn’t go to the wall against them because then he could become ‘toxic’ in the Paddock, and ‘ruin’ his career.

    I personally applaud GvdG’s approach – too many times – in all walks of life – people get out of contracts by instilling fear in the victim.

  131. Did non of the lawyers in the team think to examine the contract, they have exhibited atrocious management and deserve everything about to hit them. It’s time this world was taught that it doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

  132. while on the subject of licences , who do you apply to to get an ‘Official ‘ website like you friend james ?

  133. I can understand why Sauber did what they did re: drivers but I can’t understand the way they have dealt with the situation.

    First not talking to the drivers and just insisting “legally we’re fine”, then ignoring the results of arbitration that said they weren’t fine at all just hoping it would go away, then coming across what seems to be ridiculously amateurish bordering on downright lying when arguing their case in court.

    And this is a field Monisha specializes in?

    I don’t like what the case is doing to the Sauber team and its employees but they really have made a rod for their own back, they’ve had plenty of time to contact GVDG and resolve this issue but just carried on regardless expecting the driver just to take it on the chin that they broke a contract so late in the season he had little chance to seek a drive elsewhere. Maybe at one of the other teams struggling, who could have been saved with his sponsorship money?

    Yes there is maybe the possibility of a seat at Manor now, but months ago when the arbitration case was won, there wasn’t and Sauber just expected GVDG to walk away and forget about it.

    If I accepted a job and had a contract to start employment, therefore passing up other opportunities, you’re damn right I’d be taking them to court if they backed out.

  134. Surely breaking a legal contract in order to raise more money to continue trading is fraudulent. This silly episode could easily bring down the team, and if that happens, it won’t be the fault of VgG.

  135. I’m intrigued that you mention that Marcus ericsson’s backers arrived with enough cash to save the team from imminent financial danger, and that felipe nasr was signed to give the team a SENSIBLE budget for the year. Does that mean that Nasr’s money (over what geido would have paid) was the difference between a sensible budget and the team going bust?
    Also of interest to me is the fact that Sauber ran the second highest number of laps over the off season. – that does not sound like a team scrimping for cash. Maybe they should look at how force India handles financial shortcomings? (Not test as extensively and cut corners where needed)
    So is it possible that monisha & co made this decision to enhance the teams standing/performance and not to save it?
    I genuinely liked Sauber before this, but can’t shake the feeling this was very underhanded by them.

  136. Under UK law it is illegal to trade whilst insolvent. i.e. trading on cash flow whilst racking up debt with trading partners & the relevant tax authorities. Maybe Swiss law is different?
    Also if I was in charge of one of the other mid field teams it would certainly do no harm to us if a competitor fell by the wayside. So perhaps covert encouragement has been forthcoming in that regard to VgD.
    I am sure that Sauber have done this out of sheer desperation however I fear they are just delaying the inevitable.

  137. This is a great subterfuge.GVDG is C+ maybe B level driver at best but his Daddy in Law being smart and wily with his money sees Sauber as a ripe take over target to get into the F1 market. Reading as we all do Joe’s blog we know that the business of F1 is about to have a vast re-structuring as CVC has to divest themselves and a number of interested parties are thinking this is a nice piece of cake to eat up. If you own a team like Sauber how has had a good rep over the years and has been a quality staging ground for driver talent then why not snap it up at a fire sale price especially when your son-in-law is in one of the seats. Makes his daughter a happy camper and like all smart Dutch investments over the centuries this is a long game play. GVDG could have sought legal remedies before the pre-season tests to have been make whole as a pay driver. He knew, Sauber knew who was going to be in the cars before Spain but he didn’t act. Doing this days before the season opener and winning both arguments in court isn’t about sour grapes. The powers behind GVDG are looking for ownership as a way to redress the court ordered damages. Just putting him in a car tomorrow isn’t going to cut it I think

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