Former Formula 1 driver Giedo van der Garde has reportedly launched legal action against his former team, Sauber, over his right to race at the upcoming Australian Grand Prix.
Van der Garde joined Sauber in 2014 as a reserve driver, signing a contract that reportedly assured him of a seat for the 2015 season.
However, the team announced last November that Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr would be its two drivers for the 2015 season, leaving van der Garde in the cold.
According to a report in Australia’s Herald Sun, the Dutchman is now chasing an urgent court order to back up a decision by the Swiss Arbitration Institution that said Sauber must keep him on.
“In early November 2014, Mr. van de Garde was informed by Sauber’s Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Monisha Kaltenborn, that Sauber’s two seats had been given to other drivers and that, as a consequence, Mr van der Garde would not have a place as a driver in the team in 2015,” court documents read.
“The Respondent was ordered to refrain from taking any action the effect of which would be to deprive Mr. van der Garde of his entitlement to participate in the 2015 Formula One Season as one of Sauber’s two nominated race drivers.”
Should he indeed be pursuing the case, van der Garde faces a race against time to secure one of the Sauber seats for the first race of the year in Melbourne, Australia, on March 15.
He is not the only driver to have been left out in the cold by Sauber in this way. Germany’s Adrian Sutil claimed last November that he too had a contract signed with the team for 2015, but has since reportedly switched his focus to a move into endurance racing.
In a further side to the story, veteran F1 journalist Joe Saward reports that Sauber had originally planned to race with van der Garde and Ferrari/Marussia driver Jules Bianchi in 2015 prior to the latter’s accident at Suzuka.
Sauber enjoyed an impressive winter testing programme in Spain as both Ericsson and Nasr put in some good lap times with the new C34 car, but it remains to be seen if van der Garde can win his case and displace one of them for the first round of the year.