Giedo van der Garde has come to an agreement with the Sauber F1 Team to end his contract with the team and bring to a close the legal wrangling between the two parties.
After weeks of debating, and trips to court in the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Australia, van der Garde gave up his right to race in Australia last week for the ‘good of the sport’ but now has relinquished this completely after receiving compensation from Sauber.
A statement from the Dutchman revealed a settlement has been agreed with Sauber, who will now be able to field Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson in future races without the treat of van der Garde taking their rides.
‘We have reached a settlement with Sauber and my driver contract with the team has been ended by mutual consent,” said van der Garde in his statement.
“As a passionate race driver, I feel sad and am very disappointed. I have worked very hard my entire career, ever since starting with go-karts at the age of eight, to live my dream and become a successful Formula One driver.
“I had hoped at last to be able to show what I am capable of, driving a car for a respected midfield team in the 2015 season. This dream has been taken away from me and I know that my future in Formula One is probably over.”
Van der Garde revealed the full extent of his court case, maintaining that he and his sponsors had paid up front during 2014 to get a race seat this season, and admitted his bamboozlement that Sauber did not honour this fact.
“I had a valid driver contract for the entire 2015 season and enforceable rights to it,” continued van der Garde. “I pushed very hard until last Saturday in Melbourne to get the drive that I was entitled to. This legal process started in 2014 and has taken a great deal of effort.
“It was never a last minute thing, but it only became public in the last week when we tried to force the team to accept the rulings of a succession of legal authorities and courts.
“There has been a lot of speculation in the media over the past week, so I want to set out clearly that my sponsors paid the sponsorship fee related to the 2015 season in its entirety to Sauber in the first half of 2014.
“This was simply in good faith and to help the team deal with its cash problems at the time. Effectively, it was my sponsor’s advanced payments that helped the team survive in 2014
”Sauber’s financial decision-making in this case is bizarre and makes no sense to me. I am not at liberty to discuss details, but Sauber paid significant compensation to avoid honouring the contract they had with me.
Only in that respect can I be satisfied that my rights have finally been recognised and that at least some justice has been done.”
Despite believing his Formula 1 career is over, van der Garde still sees his future in motorsport, and believes a move in the World Endurance Championship or the DTM Series are both viable options for him.
“My future in motorsport has not finished,” insisted van der Garde. “On the contrary, I see this as a new beginning. I will sit down with my management in the coming weeks to discuss my future plans.
“I would love to take part in the WEC and the Le Mans 24 Hours in an LMP1 car. Former Formula One drivers do very well in this series. We also have our eye on other series such as the DTM in 2016 and beyond.”
Van der Garde hopes his case versus Sauber will mean drivers in the future will be better protected when it comes to contracts, and it will mean teams honouring the contracts much like companies would in other business sectors.
“Finally, I would like to direct a few words to the teams, drivers, future drivers, their managers and the Formula One governing bodies,” said van der Garde.
“I sincerely hope that what has happened to me will start a movement aimed at setting new standards and bringing about new regulations to help protect the rights of drivers.
“I would like to think that the values and business ethics that apply in any other business should be equally applicable in Formula One.”