Supreme Court of Victoria dismisses Sauber appeal; van der Garde legally wins (UPDATED)


1:40 a.m. ET (UPDATE): The Supreme Court of Victoria has dismissed Sauber’s appeal, which means Giedo van der Garde has legally won his case to race in this weekend’s season opening Australian Grand Prix.

The Court said it saw no error in the reasons of the trial judge, and the appeal is dismissed.

10:45 p.m. ET: All of the lawyers for Sauber, Sauber’s two planned drivers Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson, and 2014 Sauber reserve driver Giedo van der Garde have made their cases in the Supreme Court of Victoria, in the ongoing dispute over who will drive in this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

A decision will come down Thursday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. local time in Australia, which translates to 1:30 a.m. ET Thursday morning here in the U.S., 12:30 a.m. CT and 10:30 p.m. PT on the west coast.

The decision on Thursday comes after van der Garde won his court case Wednesday that he be allowed to drive in the Grand Prix. Sauber appealed and testimony from all parties was heard today.

Per veteran F1 journalist Adam Cooper (@adamcooperf1) and Melbourne 7 news reporter Kate Jones (@kate_jones7), both of whom followed the proceedings as they happened, Sauber’s lawyer took the stand first before the respective lawyers for Nasr and Ericsson, and lastly van der Gardes.

Sauber has argued that it would need two weeks for van der Garde to have a seat ready to go, and also that the Dutchman would need a Superlicense, the process of which would also take too long. Per Cooper though, the judges were already giving Sauber’s lawyer a hard time during that testimony:

A point of evidence raised was that van der Garde won the first judgment against Sauber on December 3 and thus Sauber should have ample time to prepare for the follow-up.

Per Jones, Sauber’s lawyer also thought whatever decision would only affect Australia, and not the remaining Grands Prix this season, but the judges disagreed.

Once it came time for the lawyers for Nasr and Ericsson to stake their case, the judge said Sauber has left them in a tough spot as they’re two drivers with contracts, and van der Garde would have a third.

Per Jones, Van der Garde’s lawyer argued for his client that Sauber had already breached Swiss order by nominating new drivers and telling the FIA his contract was terminated. Van der Garde’s lawyer said he has worked all his life to drive in F1 and with the length of time taken to make a ruling, his chances of racing this weekend are slipping away.

On another note, as of now, Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn is set to be part of the team principals press conference this weekend in Melbourne.

Add that to the ongoing legal proceedings and the saga continues.

New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong will team with boyhood idol Scott Dixon

Marcus Armstrong Scott Dixon
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images

Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan his entire life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his fellow New Zealander to autograph a helmet visor that he hung on his bedroom wall.

Next year, Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate.

Armstrong was named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will pilot the No. 11 next season on road and street courses.

A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars numbered in sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives the No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?

A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in Formula One feeder series F2, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and former roommate of Callum Illot and former teammate of Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that’s been really well televised in New Zealand since I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time progressed, as I got closer to F1 and single-seaters, the attraction to IndyCar grew just because of how competitive the championship is – I like to challenge myself and the level of competition in IndyCar is remarkably high.”

Armstrong, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was set to travel from his current home in London to Indianapolis this weekend to meet his new team. He won’t need an introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s unequivocal childhood hero.

Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory to pass Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. Dixon has driven for Ganassi in all but 23 of his 345 career starts.

“For a long time I’ve been a Scott Dixon fan. I don’t want to make him cringe with our age difference,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference, Armstrong never considered someday racing with Dixon a fantasy.

He convinced his father after winning five national karting championships to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at age 14, where he moved by himself to pursue a racing career. Armstrong said as soon as he’d received parental permission, he’d never look back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after his move to Italy and won that title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, then collected four wins and eight podiums in three seasons of F2.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I was capable of doing great in the sport,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to succeed in the sport, you need to believe in yourself. I always pictured myself being in IndyCar.

“As Scott’s teammate? I can’t specifically say I saw that. It’s an extraordinary chain of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but has only 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi began the trend in 2016 when the American left F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He’s been followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as driver for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar’s second-tier development series.

Armstrong said he could have remained in F2 for a fourth season, but he’d been watching IndyCar for so long, and after conversations with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to make the move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series in the world. He tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is done for good, just that he wants to be in IndyCar right now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that is standing right in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to perform as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic chance that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a landing spot – I am looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I am here.”