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

2 Comments

“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.

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
0 Comments

Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.