Van der Garde and Sauber agree to end his contract by “mutual consent”

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“Mutual parting of ways” has been the de rigueur term used lately in the NFL to describe either a head coach getting fired or a player departing from a team.

“Mutual consent” is a similar term, not heard in motorsports as often, but heard today as the Sauber vs. Giedo van der Garde saga has reached its conclusion.

In a lengthy statement posted to his Facebook page, the Dutch driver said he and the team have reached a settlement after their court case overshadowed the run up to the Australian Grand Prix. He explained further in his post that Sauber had paid significant financial compensation to provide “some justice.”

“We have reached a settlement with Sauber and my driver contract with the team has been ended by mutual consent,” van der Garde wrote. “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.”

Said career has really been a process of 10 years, van der Garde also having been involved in a contract dispute between his time as a test driver at Super Aguri and Spyker circa 2006 and 2007. Four years in GP2 from 2009 through 2012 brought some results and ultimately van der Garde fared decently well alongside Charles Pic in the 2013 season at Caterham, although neither scored a point.

He then became Sauber reserve a year ago and was planning to race this year for the team, before the team’s financial situation evolved even though he had a contract. Van der Garde explained the frustration:

“I had a valid driver contract for the entire 2015 season and enforceable rights to it,” he wrote. “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.”

Van der Garde also wrote that his sponsors paid up front in 2014, which helped the team survive into 2015 to begin with.

“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,” van der Garde wrote.

The statement also took direct aim at Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn, as van der Garde said she was adamant she would not back down and let him drive. But at the risk of further ruining the Sauber team’s weekend, and perhaps its longer term prospects, he backed down – coincidentally, Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson delivered Sauber’s single best result since the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix, the last race the team placed both cars in the points.

Van der Garde expressed thanks to all his fans and supporters, while also noting this won’t be the end of his motorsports career. He noted an interest in LMP1 at Le Mans, however with only the privateer Rebellion and Lotus lineups yet to confirm their full-season lineups, he may have to wait a year.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.