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


“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.