Another view…

Looking at the situation at Sauber right now, one wonders whether the motivation behind all this courtroom activity is simply Dutch stubbornness and an understandable sense of having been wronged, or whether there are bigger picture things going on. Things are not always as they seem in F1, so one must ask why this mess is happening when there is little or no chance of any serious compensation.

How can a court assess image damage to a pay-driver? A judge would say: what was Mr Van der Garde’s reputation and prospects before the incident? Amiable pay-driver, no real prospects of a Ferrari drive or World Championship potential. The Dutch side’s lawyer would no doubt argue that Giedo is the next Fernando Alonso… Sauber lawyers on the other hand might point out some character flaws (this is nasty stuff going on) and claim, for example, that GvdG may have denied having a contract right through last summer, so he might be willing to say what was required rather than the truth.

The judge might then ask what Giedo’s reputation is after the incident: and the reply would come back, not quite so amiable pay-driver.

So a judge might conclude that the only thing that GvdG has lost is the reputation for being amiable. If there were clauses in the contract that involved money changing hands then Sauber would be required to pay those back, but I wonder whether punitive damages could be applied? I doubt it.

And is the image damage worth a financial settlement? How do you quantify amiability in dollars? You cannot. In any case, one cannot blame wholly Sauber for this, because the responsibility is shared by all involved in this legal jamboree…

So we must perhaps consider that there is more to this than meets the eye. There often is in F1 stories. Could this, for example, be an attempt to bring the Swiss team to its knees as part of some kind of hostile takeover bid? Giedo’s father in law has been quietly sniffing around F1 for a while now, looking at ways to get into team ownership (so they say) and making a big mess in public might help such a scheme. Alas, a family-owned team is probably now the only way Giedo could get a drive in F1, so that might be one possible strategy. The Dutch F1 landscape is about to undergo a Verstappen Moment and so Giedo & Co must act quickly before they are swept away by a flood of Max Verstappen’s stories.

Sauber is a nice asset but has serious cash problems because of the mess F1 is in. F1 cannot go on destroying itself for much longer and so a smart investor might say that now is the good time to acquire a team because once a new structure comes along, teams will again have a value. Look at Williams. The US investor Brad Hollinger is buying in there because he sees F1 being close to a new growth spurt. Changes are required but in a couple of years the landscape may be very different to today.

Sauber has always been one of the most honorable and honest teams and I fervently believe that the current mess was caused only by desperation ( just as Lotus’s Carmen Jorda moment can hardly be put down to anything else) and the desire to keep the team alive and the people employed. That does not excuse it, but it helps to explain it.

Other more creative brains might argue that in recent years clever young team bosses have been disappearing on a regular basis, Adam Parr and Marco Mattiacci spring to mind. Perhaps the European Commission problems are seen by some as being the fault of Monisha and taking out the troublesome is a good tactic “pour encourager les autres”, as Voltaire might say.

Anyway, what we need right now is engine noise to drown out all of this crap. Gentlemen, start your engines!

If you can…

141 thoughts on “Another view…

  1. Joe, you are in Australia now. We are trying to out do America with our litigation. Here everyone is the victim and judgement is against the deepest pocket. The best place in the world to get money for feeling sorry for yourself.

  2. Hi Joe,

    Loved following this saga via your blog! Question: in the wash up of all of this mess, do you think Monisha Kaltenborn’s involvement in the team will now be untenable? It was her that very confidently said she knew what she was doing when she axed GvdG and Sutil. I know she’s not solely responsible for all of this, but someone always ends up paying the price.

    1. Ayrton Senna met Jim Clark in Heaven.
      “Hi Jim, why don’t we organise some F1 race here?”
      Jim: “Ayrton, we tried several times but we couldn’t find any Team Manager here”

  3. “Sauber has always been one of the most honorable and honest teams”

    Im sure Segio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg, Simona De Silvestro, Adrian Sutil, Kamui Kobayashi and Esteban Gutierrez agree with you. Not.

    1. And I believe that Hulkenberg is still owed money from Sauber for his 2013 season with them (he wasn’t paid at all in 2013 and only received partial compensation in 2014). Sauber may have been an honourable and honest team in the past, but their recent record paints them in a very different light.

    2. Bizarre comment, Charly0418. You’re implying that a F1 team is acting dishonourably and dishonestly if they give a driver a chance when no one else has; when they give that driver an opportunity that leads to him joining the sport’s most successful team; when they choose another driver when they come to the end of their contract. Doesn’t that rather mean that every F1 team is dishonourable and dishonest (perhaps they are, but for these reasons!)? The only driver named on your list there who is vaguely justified in having a chip on their shoulder about Sauber is Sutil – and if he’s honest with himself he’d realise that he was lucky to get a drive last season, and luckier still to keep it after such uncharacteristically sub-mediocre performances.

      I don’t think anyone is disputing that Sauber have not behaved with the greatest integrity in this whole case; but to use that to suggest that they are inherently dishonest is simply incorrect. Another point that has been obscured by the whole debacle is that it was caused in the first instance by contracted payments from Russia not being made to Sauber, hence they were illiquid and hence they had to take Nasr and Ericcson’s money. You might ask why Sauber have not taken legal action against the Russia investors – probably because they know, as does everyone else, that despite whatever a judge says, at the end of the day life goes on. VdG isn’t in the car today, is he? What has he achieved, beyond making the survival of a fantastic team more difficult?

    3. They still had this reputation from the Day, but in the last few years it has gone from bad to worse, not only with drivers. Think of James Key (now at TR) and Matt Morris (McLaren). Their inability to build a strong and stable team has led to their decline. Williams went through something simular (pay drivers, lots of technical changes, personell changes) but they managed to turn this around due to good and brave management decisions. I sure hope Sauber could do the same…

  4. A third option is that Giedo van der Garde invested a lot of money in Sauber last year to get this race seat and now wants his investment back either in money (which Sauber cannot or will not pay) or the drive.

    We are talking about millions of dollars here.

  5. Sauber offered a seat to Giedo van der Garde, he (or his sponsers) bought it. So they have to deliver or go bankrupt. That’s the whole story. Maybe CVC or Mr E will woke up.

    1. Yes at the time they offered a seat to Giedo it was a sensible course of action. Then there was an accident and the situation changed. Is that so hard to understand? I am not condoning what was done I am explaining it.

      1. Actually it is hard to understand how a team run by a lawyer didn’t think its actions (in the face of a changed and desprate situation) could bring it to a much worse and incredibly ugly predicament. Isn’t it common sense to put more thought into actions and their consequences when facing (or undergoing) a crisis?

      2. I still don’t understand the reasoning behind the Bianchi accident leading to direct cash-flow problems at Sauber? And even if so, why did they not take Ericsson or Nasrs Money (whoever came first) to fill the gap and keep Giedo as well, who also brings quite a sum? Why did they not talk to him about this situation, to find a mutual solution out of court? If they did not think he was up to speed, why did they keep him then?

        It does not add up to at all. I understand Giedos argument, I sort of understand the troubles that Sauber is in… Oh this is such a mess, and such a shame as I was really looking forward to the new season: Max Verstappen, Vettel at Ferrari, McLaren-Honda…

      3. Joe,
        I don’t think I will ever do business with you. According to your blog you do not believe in gentlemen’s agreements nor in contracts.

        1. That is not what it says. Read it again. It says that sometimes people have to be pragmatic. I am not condoning it, I am saying one must be realistic.

      4. Who knows hows desperate the situation was. Maybe without the choices Sauber made, GvdG wouldn’t have had anybody he could legally challenge right now…

      5. I think that’s perfectly easy to understand but if vdG bought his seat last year for (say) $8M and it’s now been sold a second time by Sauber for (say) $30M, then vdG is due $30M compensation for it’s loss and not $8M.

        On the other hand if Sauber go bust then vDG gets nothing.

        So that is the basis of the negotiation rather than vDG’s amiability or otherwise.

  6. Sorry Joe, I agree to most of your views on F1 but I suspect you’re a bit biased on this subject. Ofcourse Giedo is not the next Alonso, but that isn’t the matter here. And your takeover suggestion is just pure speculation (which I very much doubts is true). What are the facts is that Giedo signed an apparently watertight contract with Sauber last year to drive in 2015. He (as all other F1 drivers) dedicated his life to get there. And now Sauber trows his career – where he worked so hard for – in the dustbin in a manner which is unheard of. Of course its all about survival for Sauber and their 300 employees, but here are more human ways to make that happen (see: Marussia/Glock). Sauber knew the consequences when they signed Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson. They had enough time to discuss this with the persons involved. Sauber absolutely made no effort whatsoever to resolve this and it’s foolish to think this issue just goes away. Their situation is dire dire and they have to be careful with every move they make. This is mismanagement and Sauber has only themselves to blame. The last couple of days made quite clear how Sauber handels these matters. It’s a shame 300 FTE’s are on the line, but someone has to take responsibility of these bizarre actions and you can’t blame Giedo for defending his case and not to be pushed away like garbage.

    1. I have an opinion that I am allowed to have on my blog. If you don’t agree fine. But opinion is not bias. That’s just silly. Like me saying: you’re Dutch, you support Giedo. You have a different opinion…

      1. Joe, do you know anything or have an opinion (since we talk about opinions) on why Sauber did not offer Giedo the reserve role and some Friday outings? My feeling is that an approach like that might’ve convince Giedo to stay with the team in reserve role instead of sueing.

      2. Fair point. But what would you do if you where GvdG and been treated that way? Just say “oh well, i’m only a amiable pay-driver with no real prospects of a Ferrari drive or World Championship potential” and get on with your life..?

      3. Joe, sure you are allowed to have an opinion especially in this case as it is your blog. I do not agree with it.
        In “my” opinion I believe Sauber is in the wrong. A contract is a contract.
        Some years ago, someone’s word would be enough. Today not even a legal contract is respected.
        I believe Ms Katelborn has her days counted. No one will trust her any more.
        I am not Dutch, by the way.

    2. He, he. It is funny to read, how all the Dutch GvdG fans now go crazy.

      How people see Things have happened seems to be quite colored according to Nationality.
      Joe Saward has, I think, described the “Sauber Gate” objectively and realistic. Now Holland: You have your Verstappen in F1 Again.
      Why don´t you leave it at that, be happy, and forget a Noper like GvdG….

  7. Joe, you clearly think Giedo is in the wrong, I feel most people feel Giedo is right for doing this, and the law is on his side.

    I like your site, news items, I browse most days, but sometimes your self righteous attitude and a complete lack of an impartial point of view infuriates me and entertains me in equal measure.

    Anyway don’t change and keep up the good work.

      1. Crikey… F1 eating it self like a pack of zombies stuffed into a gumboot fighting over a chiko roll.

        GvdG certainly won’t get a seat in Indycar as the seats are awarded based on talent not $$$

        Sadly I may have to watch him drive a Formula E car now 😦

        1. You can buy a seat in IndyCar if you bring enough money (less than in F1). Some talented drivers do not get seats because lack of money, like Justin Wilson.

      2. Are you saying you have not yet spoken your mind?

        That would be some kind of explanation. Otherwise who writes publicly spends a lot of time telling people what they think…

  8. Hi Joe,

    a question. You’ve written before that there are no real damages because he’s a pay-driver, but I assume he does get paid something, right? If so, do the sponsors pay the team, and they pay him a salary? Or do the sponsors pay him directly?

    Even if it’s a bit more complex in the second case, I’d say he can probably claim a loss of earnings in both cases, but certainly in the first.

    On top of that, and this is much more speculative, if he had contracts in place with his sponsors. He would be in breach of those, not driving. If there are any damages there, he should be able to claim those as well I presume, even if he doesn’t get to keep that money.

    All in all, I highly doubt there aren’t any real damages. And for a team in financial trouble, like Sauber, they could be significant.

    Let me know your thoughts.

    Kind regards,

      1. The commitments made to sponsors is more pertinent. Were any payments to Sauber conditional? If so, were those conditions met or are the team in breach of them. Irrespective of Sauber’s pragmatic change of driver line up given the Bianchi situation, they appear to have dropped the ball somewhere and the law courts believe they are more to blame than the driver or any other party.

  9. If the announcement goes ahead then Mallya and his assistants must face whatever response Liuzzi cares to embark upon. Clearly the Indian billionaire does not care much about money, nor about contracts, and seems to be happy to be relying on the fact that Liuzzi can take legal action against him and that will take time to sort out, by which time all that the driver can hope for is a financial settlement, as his career will be ruined by then. Liuzzi could try to claim damages from Mallya, but finding a suitable figure for the damage that will be done is not going to be easy.

    Liuzzi and his advisors would be forgiven for thinking that the only way that they are going to get satisfaction is if they decide to take action that will damage Mallya’s reputation or dent his (considerable) ego. There is thus much incentive for the Italian to go in hard, in a very public way, and concentrate on making sure that people in Formula 1 and in India know that Mallya is not a man with whom it is sensible to do business.

    1. And? Different situation completely. Pointless to make comparisons. Of course I fully accept that every man and his dog who have never been in an F1 Paddock know so much more than I do. It is the nature of social media. You come here I presume to find put what I think is going on. Accept my opinion, offered for free. I’m not going to change my opinion because an F1 fan in Busted Flush, Minnesota, does not agree. Unless of course they are a holidaying Supreme Court judge. Let us see who is in the car.,.

      1. Busted Flush Minnesota???
        Is that supposed to be some PC version of Bum Phuk Minnesota?
        BTW, have you ever been to Minnesota? I hear it’s quite lovely in February.

        1. Robert Allen Zimmerman may take issue with kind words directed to his home state.

  10. Hi Joe, intersting to read your articles. But this one,… It was about business contract that to parties had and not about image of mr GvdG.

  11. I hope GvDG doesn’t get a super licence, doesn’t drive the car, gets counter sued for not actually driving and wasting everyone’s time and also gets severely reprimanded by the FIA for bringing the sport into disrepute.

    As much as legal contracts are made, it’s the FIA that control the sporting aspect of the regulations, and they should step in and prevent him from racing to prevent damage to the Sauber team and the reputation of the sport.

    1. Sorry but you need to get a sense of perspective. Are you saying paying for a service and expecting a return is a bad thing? It’s like buying a car you won from auction only to be told you need to return it just because someone else bid higher after you’ve bought it.

      1. I have a perspective thanks… I didn’t say anything you suggested I said. And your analogy is flawed. Giedo wasn’t paying 100% of the costs associated with him racing, he brought a budget but not all te budget. Sauber were still using there own cash as part of the deal, more a business partnership than a transaction. The landscape changed from the initial agreement, and Sauber needed to go into business with someone else because Giedo was no longer in a position to be a partner when others were. If Giedo stays, then Sauber disappear, so he has no drive.

        I’m sorry but the harsh reality is Giedo can’t afford to race in F1 with Sauber, and a court telling him he has a valid contract isn’t going to change that

        1. So why doesn’t Sauber bring this up in court saying it will be the end of the team if Giedo gets the drive? Then it is for the judge to decide whether the termination was necessary.

          They didn’t. So it may not be true.

          1. It has no bearing on the case (legally speaking). Otherwise anyone could do anything illegal and protest in court, “but if you find me guilty my whole company will go out of business!”. Not a good precedent.

          2. Probably because admitting you are legally in the wrong but completely morally justified usually means admitting you know you are legally in the wrong

    2. Wow. That’s a view and a half.

      The Sauber team has damaged themselves by going about business the way they did. It’s not great that it’s ended up in court taking the shine off the start of the season, but Sauber had chances to avoid this and look to have buried their heads in the sand and looked for loopholes that make screwing someone over OK.

      The truth is not many people know the whole story of what had gone on but the way Sauber handled their drivers last season was shockingly poor. If gvdg had known his contract wasn’t worth the paper it was written on he could have had a chance to take his sponsorship money to another team. There was no shortage of teams looking for well backed pay drivers in the second half of the season.

      If Monisha need to sign other drivers to keep Sauber afloat she should have at least told him rather than letting the media do it. Just a complete lack of respect for someone who’s money had been helping keep them racing.

      1. Sauber have spent 20 years building a reputation in Motorsport, winning in F1 and Le Mans and being recognised as the starting point for many a great driver. They have a reputation to harm.

        Giedo has not proven himself in F1, is not particularly well known and most importantly, has a lot less to lose than Sauber.

        I am pretty certain that Giedo would have been asked for more money, and if he has lost the drive then it’s because e didn’t have the cash. He must’ve been aware that his budget wasn’t going to sustain the team sufficiently. He knows te sport, he knew Sauber needed every penny, he wasn’t able to pay enough. At that point he should have accepted that the drive wasn’t his. Instead he’s allowed others to foot the bill of building the car and maintaining the team, and is now demanding a drive, To the almost certain detriment of all involved in some vain hope of placing himself in a shop window, long after all others have moved on.

        1. The reputation of the company or the driver is completely academic – VDG had a signed piece of paper saying ‘you can drive our car next year’…

          Sauber then proceeded to dole out 2-3 more pieces of paper to other drivers saying the same thing without sufficiently negotiating the cancellation of the ones they had in place.

          The only driver who seems to have been dealt with properly was GUT.

        2. Pretty certain = you don’t know this. So your whole argument is flawed at best. I say that because we have all seen / heard what the Judges thought of the actual actions taken by Sauber and the arguments they put forward in court. They were actually laughing in their face during a court session. That does not sound like a well rounded thought process has gone into this whole mess and THAT is what all those people are reacting to who are reacting negatively towards Sauber. Their whole 20yr reputation has gone out of the window in the last couple of days, something like that can only be driver by desperation. That is the real shame here and in the end this story only has losers. But a midst this all there is still Monisha, she has ultimate responsibility for what is being done and she has screwed up royally. Even us ‘arm chair’ F1 fans can see that, we don’t have to be in the paddock to realize something like that.

        3. I think this is the closest comment to the truth, out of the three articles.

          If the father-in-law is making a play for the team, he has allowed them to build the 2015 car with other drivers’ money before stepping in to **** the team over.

  12. Pardon my ignorance but what does “pour encourager les autres” mean? I did a google search but couldnt understand its relevance to this scenario

    1. Found the following entry from March 2007 on a blog called “The Poor Mouth” by Shaun Downey.


      The expression “Pour encourager les autres’ is a well known quote from Voltaire’s Candide. The full quote is “dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres” – in this country (England), it is good, to kill an admiral from time to time, to encourage the others’). It refers to the fate of Admiral John Byng who was executed in 1757.

      Last Wednesday marked the 250th anniversary of Admiral Byng’s execution for failing to “do his utmost” during the Battle of Menorca at the start of the Seven Years’ War. There is a memorial to him in a church in Southill, Bedfordshire which sums up his fate quite well “To the perpetual Disgrace of Public Justice… a Martyr to Political Persecution…when Bravery and Loyalty were Insufficient Securities for the Life and Honour of a Naval Officer”

      End Quote:

      My question here is who is doing the killing, and who is being sacrificed? Is Monica taking out Guido, at the encouragement of the Piranha Club, as a lesson to the other drivers? Or is Monica (or Sauber) for the chop as part of a bigger picture?


      1. Bloody hell. When Admiral Byng comes up as an apposite description of how scores are settled in F1 in 2015 — why can I not shake the impression that the sport we love is rotting from very deep within?

        Ah well. Perhaps we all need to cultivate a more Weimar attitude towards it all — in the words of Max Reinhardt: “What I love is the taste of transience on the tongue – every year might be the last.”

      2. Not knowing any of the facts, but on the basis that successful businesses don’t take major decisions like this lightly and generally speaking the simplest answer is usually the right one, this sounds to me like a ‘lesser of two evils’ situation…
        a) honour the vdG contract and the business suffers immediately.
        b) sell the seats elsewhere, have a fight over it and hope you win/ buy enough time to be in a stronger position to deal with any fall-out from that course of action.

        Rarely are there big decisions like this without some degree of compromise… I just hope the fall-out is manageable for Sauber.

        1. Not long now before the value of the sport is down to the appropriate value for the appropriate person to make their move.

      3. Proof, you learn something new everyday! Thanks, Joe! There’s even some hidden irony in this lesson in that he was executed on March 14, 1757…exactly 258 years to the day from the start of this 2015 F1 season.

  13. “Gentlemen, start your engines!

    If you can…”

    Is this related to the Manor engine software stories I’ve seen floating around? Is the big phoenix comeback going to be mildly dented by the fact the cars can’t actually move? Or are these rumours well wide of the mark?

    1. When the Manor equipment was being prepared for auction, the IT staff had to do their due diligence and remove any Ferrari IP/software because the auction didn’t include the Ferrari PUs.

      The servers were rescued from auction alongside the chassis and other equipment, but obviously they have to recreate their IT infrastructure. The software to manage the PUs is held by Ferrari and released to the customer teams – Ferrari were likely waiting to see if Manor made it to AUS before releasing it.

      The cars were scrutinised successfully, so have been entered for the event and are safe from Bernie’s axe and are entitled to the prize money, even if they never run in the race (due to a legitimate technical issue).

  14. “Dutch stubbornness”

    Are the Dutch unusually stubborn on a scale that can be quantified? Always most interesting what traits the English perceive in citizens of other countries.

    1. I think he meant it as GvdG is Dutch and is being stubborn, I don’t think we class the Dutch as being stubborn. I know I don’t, anyway.

  15. What do you think about the F1 media’s lack of interest in this case? You and a couple of others excepted. A well-respected organ has found room in its top headlines for stories about Rosberg’s age, Williams’s wind tunnels and Vitantonio Liuzzi, but not the Van der Garde/Sauber case.

      1. It’s a show up actually of who covers things and who has what influences.

        Interesting thing is van der Garde I don’t think could publicise anything, so it took a while to be noticed.

        The question I have is why nobody interviewed Guarde when he seemed to be out of the picture and new money came in. The new money was a story…

        I think we’re a long way from having a unbiased media serving the sport.

        It could have been different. It could have been better.

  16. I tend to agree with you on this one Joe. It’s a pity for VdG and Sauber might have acted more honourably but there we go. I’d like to see what all those who are quick to condemn would have done under the same circumstances, as always we’re very quick to know better (and I don;t exclude myself from that). The reality of the situation is that by many accounts had Sauber honoured VdG’s contract then they’d not even be in Australia to give him a drive. That doesn’t mean his contract is null and void, but as you say it does put the situation into context.

    I like VdG for his press-on driving style and because he’s been around the block more than once and stayed the course, and interpreting this episode in those terms demonstrates a degree of that tenacity and determination and which is admirable. In many ways he has an enviable life; his wife is a very beautiful woman whose father happens to be incredibly wealthy and who in turn is impressed enough to indulge his son-in-law’s ambition. I do wonder though where his advise on this matter is coming from and, as you imply,if he isn’t simply a pawn in a bigger game.

  17. As far as damages, I would think a very good argument could be made that the value of the seat he gave up is the floor for damages (and not wages). So if he paid 10 million euros, for example, for the privilege to drive, that is a very good starting point. Moreover, the amounts Nasr and Ericcson ponied up for their seats is an additional reference point to value VDG’s damages. And if Sauber can’t pay, or negotiate a settlement, then bankruptcy is the logical conclusion.

    1. That’s actually a very interesting argument, which I strongly suspect might be correct. Now let’s hope Sauber / Kaltenborn actually has thought this through[0] like Joe suggest might be the case. If there isn’t an out, this might mean the end of the team I’m afraid. If they can’t afford to pay off Giedo, they’ll have to give him the seat. In which case you can be sure one of the other two (three?) contracted drivers will definitely sue for damages, so the inevitable will only be postponed.

      [0] Which doesn’t seem to be the case when reading their “safety” defense. As Button implied, Manor shouldn’t be allowed to race if that was the case.

  18. Joe,

    This is now very interesting, and backs up your comment you made on a post I did to your previous blog posting.
    I said, that it is surprising that Monisha Kaltenborn, been a lawyer, did not see this coming, and have it covered. Your reply was what makes you think she hasn’t got it covered.

    So been the time difference between here and you, I then read all about the Super license problem. You are right, as I hold a racing license, not a super license, and according to my rule book, you can get a temp license, within 48 hours, if all parties agree, that would mean the team would have to be onboard. So we are looking at a game of high stake poker, and the Super license looked to be the ace in the hole. (Or is it?) We are also talking about the Piranha Club here, and one has to remember that.

    Now you throw into the mix, about the EU Commission looking in F1. Well I can confirm that work is going on in the back ground and yes they are looking into the Prize fund and team payments from FOM. Of course people know about this, as it has been talked about, yet no official release from the EU, so far. If I was a betting man, then I might just put the house up on this happening. (Very soon)

    So the potential value of these smaller teams may just go up, if they get a fair amount of the monies that FOM now pay out to the top – historical teams.
    It would make Renault take a pretty serious look at Red Bull, as there £70M per year they get before any prize monies is paid, disappear, and you have said how long will Red Bull stay in F1, if they aren’t winning?

    That now brings us on to his father in-law and maybe looking at a bid to acquire or take a large equity holding in Sauber, as a form of payment. The Max Verstappen – media coverage will no doubt increase the exposure of his sponsors worldwide and thereby maybe there value. So father in-law is looking at riding on the back end of this exposure for his own gains. Smart move, I may add.

    One other thing, everyone talks about the contract, fine, it has most likely been proven that van der Garde had a contract, but so far no one has mention if he has made any payments towards his seat for the 2015 season, and if not, then why not?
    With Sauber taking the bigger funds from two new drivers, it means to me, that what was on the table from van der Garde, was a lot less than what they currently got. Plus he did leave himself short with this super license problem. He should have got it sorted or in hand before leaving Europe. Not a very smart move on his or managements part.

    No news from Bernie, so far about this, which as you have said, isn’t doing any real positive image promotion towards what is F1. Why is that?

    1. Ah! Very good point and maybe this is the point. I think there is a lot of “look over there don’t look over here”

      Sauber needed Ericsson’s money to stay in business last year. Suppliers needed paying, employees needed paying, the taxman needed paying and so on. It is probably fair to say Sauber is not cash-rich at this moment. So Father-in-Law comes along and says “OK, this whole problem goes away and Giedo doesn’t drive the car (this year) but I want x% of the shares”. Hostile takeover achieved all for the cost of lawyers fees only.

      1. Sauber have been for sale for years, there was simply no point in going hostile when a knock on the door would have sufficed. For the amount of money he put in he would only get a minority share so it would be pointless

        Can’t see it myself.

      2. Plus he did leave himself short with this super license problem.

        When this all kicked off late last year, VDG had a super license – he needed one for his practice outings last year.

        Obviously because the team is involved in obtaining one for him for 2015, he doesn’t have one now because in their mind, he wasn’t racing for them. A driver cannot obtain a license alone and just rock up at a team.

      3. David Hodge / Joe,

        I think I may have cracked the problem with Sauber and van der Garde. This is pretty much based on what Joe has been saying in a number of his blog postings.

        Sauber where going to hire on Jules Bianchi and with him comes a nice discounted Ferrari engine package. But unfortunately Jules has a terrible accident. Ferrari still plays a waiting game, like they did with Felipe Massa; after all he is one of their academy drivers, groomed for the top / seat at Ferrari.
        In the mean time, van der Garde and his people are pushing for the 2015 seat and have funds available. Sauber wait, but in the end, believe that Ferrari will still come through with the “Discounted” engine deal; given that it looks Bianchi will not be driving for them.

        So they sign up van der Garde.

        Now Sauber know for sure that Ferrari, are not going to supply them with a discounted engine deal, they realise very quickly, they need a heck of a lot more funds.

        Most likely, there is discussion between Sauber and van der Garde’s people about raising their amount to cover the short fall. But in this case, they say, no deal, we have a signed contract, and that is amount we are going to pay. It is therefore up to you (Sauber) to find the additional amount.

        Monisha Kaltenborn, has already been “turned over” twice in sponsorship like deals. First with the Russian’s, and then with Simona de Silvestro, but in her case, it is believed that her sponsors did make a few payments, and then it stopped, hence why she was released, and even found it hard to raise funds for an Indy Seat, but she now has the 4th Car with Andretti Autosports.

        So in Sauber defence, they figured that van der Garde, if he really wants the seat will have to come up with more funds. But it looks like he does nothing about it.

        Sauber then sign up two new drivers, whose sponsorship package allows Sauber to draw down on the funds now, so they can keep a float for the 2015 season.

        The Swiss courts take their time, but van der Garde goes to court, and wins. Sauber launch an appeal, which still to be heard.

        Now the real chance, van der Garde, still feels he has a contract to drive, which he does, so he takes to court action in Australia and surprise he wins, primarily based on the Swiss courts action, which in a strange way hasn’t been played out to the final – yet. There appeal is still to be heard in Switzerland.

        This is now real high stakes poker, and maybe the ace in the hole, is the Super License that van der Garde needs before he can drive in a Grand Prix. To get it he needs all 3 parties to be in agreement, which of course means the team, and they aren’t going to play ball. He can get a temp one, but that still needs the team to agree, and his legal people never pushed for that in their court appearance.

        Sauber and Monisha Kaltenborn, if they don’t put van der Garde in the car will be held in “Contempt of Court”, plus she may face a prison sentence, and the team have their assets seized.

        Now we get into the real interesting bits of the puzzle. As Joe has reported, the father in-law of van der Garde is pretty wealthy, and has been looking around F1 with a possible view to buy into. The reason why, is it global appeal, and that the EU Commissioners are actively looking into F1 and how they divide out the prize monies. There is an extremely good chance that they will launch some sort of official investigation into F1 in the very near future. This in turn will have a positive effect on the smaller teams, as it might mean a better – bigger share of the monies on offer. The down side is that teams like Ferrari and there £100M per year will be the real losers.

        Cast your minds back to 2014, and Sauber, one of 3 teams are talking about boycotting races unless Bernie gives them a better share of the monies.
        There are rumours, which all 3 of these teams have made or have been talked to by the EU Commissioners about F1.

        We now have this new kid on the block called Max Verstappen, and he is Dutch, same as van der Garde. It means that Holland will be exposed to the global media circus that is F1, Great if you have business that needs that sort of exposure. In the case of the father in-law, this fits in perfectly for him. All he has to do is get van der Garde in a F1 seat, or buy a controlling share in a F1 team, what with all the possible EU results going his way, it is a pretty simple but smart move on his part.
        You now have Sauber backed up against the wall in Australia, in Contempt of Court and the real threat of seizer of the team’s assets. He will have them corner and can make a deal to buy out either Peter or Monisha (30% shareholder) equity in the team.

        The Brazilian Bank – sponsors, will be very concerned at how all of this is playing out. Not what they imaged F1 was like, and do they really want to be involved? They could pick up their sponsorship and move it with the driver to another team, which now leaves a free seat at Sauber. Part of the problem solved.

        Bernie, has very mysteriously been very quiet about all of this. You sense that he is mad at these 3 smaller teams and there boycott threats last year, plus the fact that the EU is or will be looking into F1, which is what he just doesn’t want at all.

        Welcome to the Piranha Club. You need to play by their rules, of which there is none. We saw that with Force India and Manor. These team owners and principles are ruthless. There are also a few drivers like that of course. A German springs to mind, pretty quickly.

        Ferrari, are not happy with Sauber and the other 2 teams for rocking the boat, with them potential losing out on a £100M per year, plus any addition prize monies, so they hit them at the last hour with a full charge on engines. Maybe or not knowing that they had signed up van der Garde to a set budget, and that there would be a short fall.

        In reading the Swiss and Australian court briefs, so far no money from van der Garde has been paid over for the 2015 seat, so in theory he has lost nothing. The court only dealt with the legal state of the contract. Sauber mistake was not to go to court and have it cancelled. This is their biggest mistake, it maybe a little problem in the beginning, but has turned into a real right royal mess.

    2. That’s getting a little bit straw man to be honest.

      The counter argument “what makes you think she hasn’t covered it [the problem]” doesn’t bring anything new. It just suggests powers and facts that none of us can be aware of unless newly informed.

      What is it that hasn’t been realized?

      There’s only so much “ha ha but you just don’t get it” that you can do.

  19. Joe,

    thank you very much for presenting a more nuanced picture of the whole situation! While many of your colleagues are focusing on reporting the facts of the case (which seem largely – although not legally – undisputed), you are trying to to give us some background to the situation.
    This to me seems especially helpful because I, too, fail to see what logical reason Mr van der Garde might have for doing what he is doing – despite possibly being in the right legally. So far I fail to see what he might have to gain from winning in court and thereby ruining Sauber. (While i clearly understand that Sauber might not have much of a choice).

    1. An American CEO once told me that a good way to get someone to buy you out (as a company) is to sue them.

  20. Normally, I would say that the actions taken by vdg would have put him in a “unemployable” category by other companies who would not want to take the risk and hassle on, especially given this is not the first time he and his father-in-law has taken his employer to court.
    However, F1 seems to ignore previous history and the unsavoury side of reputations…. Who would have thought Alonso and McLaren would ever be reunited after the events of 2007 and Alonsos actions effectively costing them $100M and both World Constructors AND World Drivers Championship (although Lewis was also culpable in the latter one to a degree); And Kimi going back to Ferrari after being paid off NOT to race.
    Obviously those are examples of drivers with considerable talent, so I guess that would mean previous indiscretions and difficulties would be forgotten with the prospect of future glory, but in these days of teams living on the financial edge, a driver with considerable money would be seen to be just as big an asset and all prior difficulties would probably be just as conveniently ignored and swept under the proverbial carpet.

  21. Sorry Joe but the stubborn ones are not the Dutch but rather you.
    Sauber has screwed up royally but you keep sort of defending their actions in this matter. Also you seem to have double standards as this is what you wrote in the Force India vs Liuzzi case:

    “If the announcement goes ahead then Mallya and his assistants must face whatever response Liuzzi cares to embark upon. Clearly the Indian billionaire does not care much about money, nor about contracts, and seems to be happy to be relying on the fact that Liuzzi can take legal action against him and that will take time to sort out, by which time all that the driver can hope for is a financial settlement, as his career will be ruined by then. Liuzzi could try to claim damages from Mallya, but finding a suitable figure for the damage that will be done is not going to be easy.
    Liuzzi and his advisors would be forgiven for thinking that the only way that they are going to get satisfaction is if they decide to take action that will damage Mallya’s reputation or dent his (considerable) ego. There is thus much incentive for the Italian to go in hard, in a very public way, and concentrate on making sure that people in Formula 1 and in India know that Mallya is not a man with whom it is sensible to do business.”

    Care to explain?

    1. Hello JT’s Number One Fan, how are you? You don’t seem to see the lack of connection between the two affairs. Best stick with road safety and empire-building.

      1. I’m fine hope you are too.
        The lack of connection seems to be that one team is Sauber the other Force India and one driver is Liuzzi the other is vd Garde hence my question about double standards.
        Your selectivity is there for all to see and question.

        ps The empire is coming along just fine 😉

          1. Really? None? That’s a little surprising as it seems pretty obvious from the piece Jefe has copied here. In one instance of a team breaching their contract with a driver you suggest that court action is silly and will get him nowhere (VdG) yet in the other (Tonio) you suggest that he “go in hard, in a very public way”. Those are diametrically opposing viewpoints on two instances that, from the outside, appear to be very similar.

        1. Personally I thought Joe got a bit too wound up over the whole Liuzzi/Force India divorce, I’m not sure why other than Joe thought Liuzzi was a great driver. My understanding of the cases is that the differences are in Luizzi and Van der Garde’s respective professional reputations and achievements, and the nature of the commercial relationships between them and ‘their’ teams.

          – Luizzi was aged 30 when he lost his FI drive, and had 61 GP starts and 26 points behind him and hence would have a good case to say he had demonstrated his ability to be a successful F1 driver only to have his career ended just as it was entering its prime.
          – Liuzzi could point to significant real evidence (his pre-F1 and F1 record) and media coverage identifying him a driver of talent and potential, and therefore his reputation was harmed by Force India.
          – Liuzzi was a driver who (although supported by Red Bull) had not brought significant sponsorship to Force India, and hence his contracted income and longer-term earning power was damaged.

          – Van der Garde is also 30, but has only 19 GP starts, zero points and a pre-F1 career that shows more tenacity and perseverance than outright ability.
          – VdG’s professional reputation is of a competent driver but not one with any particular competitive potential in F1.
          – VdG throughout his career has been dependent on his sponsors buying him a seat and hence there is no harm done to his present or future earnings.

          On that basis, Luizzi had he bothered may have had a good chance of winning any action against Force India. But as we have seen in VdG’s case, even had he won the case, taking action would not have made him still be a FI driver in 2011, and would have meant he would be unable to resume a driving career, especially in F1 (he could hardly sue FI for harming his career as a F1 driver when he was still a F1 driver in 2011). Hence he probably decided to move on, start again with HRT and ultimately is probably happier for it. This adds to the feeling that VdG’s legal action is rather opportunistic – he waited while the car was designed, built and tested with someone else’s money before launching his action as the race was about to get underway. He would have had a good chance of a seat with Manor, but perhaps realised to take that opportunity would undermine his claim. He’s won his case, but he’s still not driving the Sauber – so what was in it for him?

        2. If sauber had not done what they did then they would not now be in Melbourne. I don’t believe the FI situation was as severe.

          A fine mess caused by the lack of fair distribution of income from CVC.

      2. Joe you’re responding with ad hominem and it’s not becoming.

        Sorry to be this blunt, but whether the argument is well put or not, you have offered plain nothing at all of any substance to support what you appear to support or allude to being the case in know – all fashion resting on some otherwise well earned laurels.

        you might instead have said that you know the above poster, if you do, and that you know them to have a agenda, and then that would be understood and left at that. Instead why screw up a rebuttal, if there’s a way to knock it (the comment) down?

        This is a unsightly display and I will allow that some may have come out of the woodwork to bash you on this one simply because unusually a fair number of your staunch supporters are sceptical about your position this time… but even so…

        I think you and Sauber are digging holes… likely both for silly reasons and not malice, but even so, it’s a crying shame. Those who truly care want who screws up to come and fess up and wipe their mouths and get on with this racing. None of the drivers concerned are yet recipients of fandom that truly shifts opinion among any wider crowd. So that doesn’t matter. But that’s exactly why hitting up one driver is unsporting.


        This really is a mess 😦

  22. I tend to agree that all of this is some kind of manoeuvring by VDGs well off father in law to acquire an F1 team at a knock down price. If Monisha has a 30% stake and Giedo doesn’t go racing this weekend because Sauber keep finding ways to stall and then get their stuff seized that could be a lot of pressure for her to sell up.

    It does sound though as if she knows what she’s doing and is fighting every last avenue available…

    Then on the flip side Giedo sounds like he absolutely genuinely just wants to race.

    Though none of this has been handled well by anyone.

    Will be very interesting to see how it all shakes out this weekend.

    On another note am flying down to Melbourne tomorrow to catch the race, first time I’ll be at Albert Park and am really looking forward to it. So many other great stories about this season, lets hope we’re talking about those once the chequered flag falls and not F1s latest political/legal rumblings.

  23. Joe, thanks for the “other” opinion in this case. It does bring a breath of fresh air. I’m a dutch guy so obviously a bit biased in this case. But what’s interesting for me is the fact that a driver takes a team to court. Has this happened (to this extent) before in F1 in recent years? I’m asking because a couple of drivers (Massa, Perez, Button) have said that they didn’t like the way Sauber was handling the situation. Almost feels like some of the drivers are happy that someone is sticking his neck out (and probably gets it whacked off) to see what’s gonna happen.

    1. I still swear I have no personal bias in this except I am fed up at bias everywhere and denials and illogic and insulting well biting the hand which feeds…it is extra-ordinary.

      but what you say may be true, that drivers have felt they cannot get what they feel is right because to sue is the nuclear option

      that may be the sentiment regardless of any specifics of this case

      and any specifics of this case are already public long ago just nobody in the F1 media has reported them fully.

      Joe is in a mess because he usually knows something or he doesn’t. But this one is all in the open and none of that open is being relayed here. I feel as if years of work has been undone in a mere few opinion blogs. It’s a lousy way to start the season.

  24. Whatever VDGs motivation is – it is clear that had the shoe been on the other foot he would have been sued by the team had they not had any other pay drivers waiting in the wings with the same amount of money he had for them.

    We cannot know at this point if the team was pre-paid money by him but one thing we do know; TWO courts have sided with him (not counting the appellate court) and one could make a claim that he made a deal with the team and that at the time of this deal he may have had other opportunities to make a deal with other teams. The court does not have to have proof another deal would have been done with another team – only of proof of other negotiations and a possibility that he closed down those avenues to sign the current deal.

    Lets say the driver in question decided after signing with Sauber he was offered a better deal with another team and decided to take up that offer and dump Sauber. Most people I know would bet that Sauber would go to court to enforce these payments as a penalty for not being correct.

    Its actually a pretty good kick in the teeth to force this team to honor his contract and stop being a s**t about it and just run him. In the end he will lose – sort of a Perry McCarthy like crap will occur in that the car will barely make it out of pit lane in most events until he decides to leave. One hopes the steering rack will be OK! (Referencing Perry @ SPA).

    If it were me I would take the money and head to Indy Car. I have zero respect for Sauber now. I would have to say that future sponsors could have second thoughts making a deal with these people noticing that two drivers signatures on paper mean nothing to them.

  25. Joe, Peter Sauber, for whom I have a lot of respect following his actions post the BMW departure, appears to have been very silent through out this debacle. Does that mean he no longer has any active ownership?

  26. Well Joe .. the ‘ damages ‘ are easy to suss out when it comes to Pay to Play drivers . As you and I both know .. even the likes of VdG despite daddy’s deep pockets come with a packet of ( personal ) sponsors paying for the driver to play . With those sponsors expecting a return on their investment … mainly TV exposure . e.g. If VdG is in the car on race day ? Everybody’s happy . If’n he aint … well … there’s gonna be hell to pay .. both from Poppa VdG .. as well as all those ponying up for VdG’s ride . But still Joe … and again …. in light of how many times you’ve been on the wrong(ed) side of things lately when it comes to contracts I’m kind of shocked you’re questioning this …. Signed contracts are a legally binding tool . Not to be trifled with regardless of the potential outcome

    e.g. Better to bankrupt a company by holding to the terms of the contract .. then to wind up on the wrong end of things from which you’ll never recover [ see below // Disassembled ]

    But anyway … it looks like either A) Peter Sauber finally came to his senses [ I know for a fact more than a few CH financial institutions put PS on notice as to what the outcome would be if he did not ] .. or

    B) His legal advisors finally woke up from their winter long slumber into the cold harsh reality of daylight and gave Peter & Co the advice they should of given him from the get go

    Phew !

    Because as I stated yesterday … there are a whole host of heavy hitters out there waiting to see IF Peter Sauber & Sauber F1 knows what a contract is … cause if proven that he/they do not [ which still might happen with Sutil’s impending lawsuit ] Mr Sauber and Company would find themselves … to put it in strictly business parlance …. Disassembled … which in short means by the time everyone was done with him [ and the team ] Peter Sauber and Sauber F1 would no longer qualify for a loan to buy even so much as a Toblerone bar … Trust me Joe . The term is very very real .

    Cheers Joe . Enjoy the weekend … and here’s hoping you’re holding up well .

    1. well I wrote a reply to the above

      and I am stopping to bother

      because I think this is worse than egg on face and well shoot I couldn’t answer questions about this if I represented you.

      resignation territory

      I flippantly hope that Guarde if he ever looks this way will overlook your spin. he could be a dangerous man. but I think you caused enough damage to the crusade which I supported so long, by this, to say I can’t find the excuse. I think you’ve been silly and it’s beyond a jest to insult readers when you have the greater skill to write around such contentions. call me a dunce any time i’ll laugh it off and roll with it, because I am or was in this for the longer game, to see if you could change the way this sport works. But screw all that. You must have perfect information and i mean perfect to call things this way, and I don’t think anyone gets perfect information. I spent a bunch of time acvtually findng a market for media and ads around F1 recently. But this just screws the whole game, unless the objective was to make it all look so bad and destroy the rest and come back Lazarus??!! I liked long shots. THis is too much.

      You’ve got hemmed in Joe, in all the bad ways in business, I’ve done each of them at least once. Nobody but you can get you out. You don’t have anyone save some commenters I am aware of who will ytell you anything strauight. get that sorted. This truly is not the way I wanted to start the year. How many comments have you discareded from those who really give a damn not about the story but about you? Take care and look after what matters most. yours always, just not this way ~ john

  27. Joe

    Love your work, honest & open and linking the reality of behind the scenes machinations together

    The Sauber driver issue is a mess. I doubt GvdG or his backers will care if 300+ Sauberites dont get paid this week, or indeed dont have a gig tomorrow.


    Stick to your guns Joe, I for one enjoy what you share.

  28. Joe, as you said Sauber is a valuable asset, so the worst/best thing that can happen when it goes under is that someone else will take over. Few except Ms. Kaltenborn would likely lose their jobs, which is probably a better outcome than the sorry mess Sauber is right now.

    And even if Sauber does go bankrupt, I doubt their 300 employees will have problem finding a well payed job elsewhere. They are capable, Swiss people, who happen to live in the backyard of Munich. Come on. It’s not like the ones Sauber dumped after taking over from BMW are starving now, is it?

  29. I think you might be right Joe It may indeed be just a clever move to soften up the team for a takeover bid. Is there any possibility that maybe somebody can take Formula 1 by the scruff of the neck before it destroys itself?

    1. Well, Justin King is in there at Manor, getting his hands (metaphorically) dirty, learning his way around the Piranha Club, learning that F1 is emphatically not just like any other business — he just needs to make sure he don’t get done like Adam Parr and Marco Mattiacci got done…

  30. I’m not an Australian lawyer, but in countries like the US, awarding damages is not the only remedy in breach of contract disputes. An alternative judgement is for “specific performance” of the contract. This is usually common when damages would not be adequate remedy – Sauber should have known that was a potential outcome.

    I am not a fan of pay drivers and I am somewhat fond of Sauber, but I don’t agree with the way they have handled this matter and don’t feel bad for them.

  31. Voltaire aside, MK has clearly run Sauber into the ground. The job saving argument is/was icing on the cake of that. GvdG knows it’s a drive or nothing.

  32. Sauber used to be a highly ethical and moral team under Peter Sauber’s wing – but honestly since Monisha took over they have plummeted. Last year they had the worst season in their history, failing to score a single point. Now we have this debacle. And Monisha could well be in jail before the weekend is out. Not that I can feel sorry for her – it seems her disregard for the law is only matched by the extent to which her moral compass is broken.

    Is it safe to say that perhaps if Sauber does survive it should be under new leadership?

  33. Joe, this isn’t the first driver Sauber has said would race for it but then denied it. Simona di Silvestro and Sergey Sirotkin are the other drivers who were announced in a newsworthy, attention grabbing manner, but were quietly dismissed. Of course, there are serious reasons behind this – I’m just making an observation.

    Do you think Monisha is a tad inefficient or immature in these matters?

      1. Sutil did have a concluded deal, Bianchi never had a contract unlike what you claim and Bianchi’s accident has absolutely nothing to do with Giedo, that was complete nonsense what you were posting Joe.

      2. Precisely.

        If VDG’s purported deal was only part of a four-way 2015 cobble together, for which the other three parts fell apart, eg. Serotkin Russian money, Silvestro funds, Bianchi accident; not hard to see why VdG’s people were not approached to make up any of the shortfall.

        Re. Contract is a contract, rule of law, EU Commission – the same EU for forced Greece to impose a ‘haircut’ on investors and bond holders in order to qualify for bailout.

        All those good people and institutions had contracts. International law is happy to look the other way when it is good and ready.

  34. Well, I for one think that this mess could be well sorted out if GvD simply realises that he is the kind of driver who will forever be making up the numbers and would thus be better off doing something else. Team ownership seems a likely motive for these shenanigans, though it would be tainted. Not that he and his family care.

    1. Why should he do something else if he has the means (in his case a combination of money + some talent) to go F1 racing?
      As for ‘making up the numbers’ – that’s what most people do, yourself included I suspect – unless of course you are one of the tiny minority who can truly claim that they are a world leader or authority in their field?

  35. I dont think Monisha Kaltenborn has what it takes to run a formula one team. I’m sorry to sound as if I’m against her. My reason is that I believe when faced with a financial issue she chose the easy way out. Having already committed to two contractors she should’ve worked a bit harder in a different direction to secure funds for the team. Someone came along with an amount of cash and took that rather and didnt worry about making up anymore outside cash to have a surplus but rather spent more energy going to shake Mr eccolstone.s broken atm.

    It just seems to me that there been a lot of wrong turn decisions and barking up the wrong trees by the Monisha. And the silence by Mr E is just suspicious to me.

  36. “Anyway, what we need right now is engine noise to drown out all of this crap. Gentlemen, start your engines!”

    But the engines don’t make any noise

  37. “Anyway, what we need right now is engine noise to drown out all of this crap. Gentlemen, start your engines!”

    But the engines don’t make any noise

  38. Typically for F1 this type of slow motion train wreck scenario is compelling. The saddest thing was those pictures today of GvdG in his Sauber kit (why was he?) All your related blogs get so many comments, unfortunately more to do with his supporters showing their emotions than anything that adds to the conversation.

    I just hope that at the end of it we still have a Sauber of sorts.

  39. As Joe suggests, and as others have been commenting for a few days, the bigger story here is about Marcel Boekhoorn. I doubt he would be supporting Giedo to this extent unless there was a more grandiose plan in the making.

    The “Giedo has the right to drive” case is the trojan horse to force Sauber into a position of agreeing a settlement in wihch a % of team ownership will fall to Marcel Boekhoorn.

    Given the terrible way in which Sauber have approached not only this case, but their overall business model in recent years, a fresh perspective is long overdue. I hope to see a change in team management and ownership in the coming days.

  40. Rumours are Van der Garde payed $8 million up front last year for his drive this year, so it’s not just image damage, but damages are (if true) at least $8 million.

    The paddock rumour is that the FIA is helping him to fast-track his application for a super licence, which could be ready in time for Saturday practice and qualifying. “I don’t know,” van der Garde said when asked about that. “We’ll see later.”

    Indeed, court proceedings resumed in Melbourne on Friday afternoon. Van der Garde’s lawyer says Sauber is refusing to sign a document so that his super licence application can be formalised. “Sauber simply refuses to complete the paperwork,” the lawyer said.”

  41. Is there any truth to the rumour that GvD paid $8m up front last year to get a driver contract this year? I doubt anyone would expect someone with a contract to walk away from $8m and simply be ignored.

    Or is Sauber trying to decouple the upfront payment and claim it was for general investment in the team, and nothing to do with a down payment on a driving contract?

    Personally, I think this is all the fault of the Sauber team. They put GvD into a corner and dared him to push the big red button. They gave him no choice but to resort to the courts, and then act surprised when he did exactly that. Instead of dealing with the issue, Sauber simply tried to ignore it and hope the little guy would go away, and it’s come back to bite them severely.

    It’s difficult to have sympathy for the team if their strategy was to take someone’s money, not deliver what was promised in the contract, and then hope that someone didn’t have the money to drag them through the courts.

  42. Hey Joe – thanks for your insight. I don’t know why people are so aggressive towards you. You must have a very thick skin. Half these people wouldn’t speak to you like that if they met you. In my eyes, that’s wrong. I find your content insightful, and some of the comments as well but not so much the ones that attack you… Paddy

    1. Of course they wouldn’t but they are all brave when they have pseudonyms and fake e-mails. That’s fine. I have the balls to have an opinion. They do not. That is good enough for me.

  43. If they are indeed going for a hostile takeover, I can’t imagine there will be many happy employees left to work for Giedo… On the other hand, if Sauber is really in such dire straits why risk the whole team and not accept a new investor ?

  44. The GvdG team is not shooting with blanks –

    By way of background – please consider (I may be Dutch, a lawyer – but live in CH, not a GvdG fan) that the Swiss arbitration system is not known for going after their own (i.e. – ruling against Sauber).

    Apparentely Sauber’s lawyers are delaying reactivating GvdG’s contract with the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Contracts Recognition Board (CRB), a precursor for the super licence to be issued.

    Sauber is truly testing the resolve of the Australian judicial system – and contempt of court is a matter always taken seriously.

  45. Joe why do the most of the other drivers support Giedo? Have you heard what Nico Hulkeberg had to say about sauber? That says enough M. Kaltenborn treads the drivers like sh&t And she actualy said last year that driver contracts in F1 are like toiletpaper.

  46. Having read all this, many things puzzle me, one of them being this: Sauber and Kaltenborn have had months to settle this. Even with the stress and no doubt gargantuan amounts of work involved in keeping an F1 team running on a shoestring, one would assume that someone checked whether this would become a problem. So either there was some sort of unofficial deal that has now been nixed, or Sauber have been exceptionally sloppy.

    If this really is a play for power at Sauber and this is indicative of Boekhoorns conduct, then God (or whatever entity you care to invoke) help them if he succeeds.

    Legally Boekhoorn (since he’s the one pulling the strings here) is in the right, but the way he’s trying to enforce it threatens the livelihood of all the Sauber employees and probably some of their suppliers as well. That’s just heartless.

  47. whether this is an attempt to bring the team to its knees is irrelevant Joe because it would not have occurred if, as the high court agreed, Sauber had maintained its contractual obligations. Was this the intention at the outset you are wondering? If that IS the case, again it is irrelevant. Sauber scored an own goal.

    He may be a pay driver, so what? He had a contract and if Sauber didn’t think he could drive they should have given him the spot. I find it quite bizarre that M. K. is a lawyer and that she allowed (encouraged perhaps) this to happen.

  48. Okay so now you are mitigating the Sauber decisions as being a bit desperate.

    People in peril do make silly decisions.

    But business is not by it’s design forgiving of error. Caveat caveat itself.

    Now you’ve reduced the value of a pay driver to nice guy or not so nice guy after all and made this out to be kitchen sink all along, don’t you think that’s not the calibre of management required?

    Oh I’ll be straight up. As if I never was. It’s all in out for this man now. And be damned the consequences. All sorts of writing on the wall. Too much of it childish rude graffiti.

    I’m disgusted and we’ll done on that. Anything else I may say is caused by fact that that conclusion tortures a part of me …

  49. Wouldn’t it be about time to admit Monisha has made a real mess of a once very well organized – and highly reputable team?
    First, she squandered other opportunities and lots of time negotiating with shady Russians, now this contractual mess and loss of face.
    Team on the brink of extinction.
    What next?

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