Van der Garde v Sauber cease-fire

Despite the twitter assertions from the BBC and SKY that the Van der Garde v Sauber dispute is over – it is not.

Having been timed out for a super license to drive this weekend, the Dutchman’s legal team decided that to insist on Justice Croft issuing a contempt order and see the Sauber cars impounded, did not fit their agenda best.

The decision to withdraw the contempt application is the action of someone who still believes he will need to have dealings with the team further down the line.

The contempt order would have almost certainly been granted had Giedo’s legal advisors pressed for this action.

Van der Garde issued this statement: “With respect to the interest of motorsport, and F1 in particular, I have decided to give up my legal rights to race this weekend at the Melbourne Grand Prix.

“As I am a passionate race driver this decision has been very difficult for me. However I also wish to respect the interest of the FIA, Sauber Motorsport, as well as Nasr and Ericsson.

“My management will continue talks with Sauber early next week to find a mutually acceptable solution for the current situation that has now arisen.

“I am confident such solution will be found and I will inform the media once done.”

It is important to understand the rulings from Switzerland and now Australia which state Sauber must engage Van der Garde as a race driver under the terms of his original contract still stand.

Were Giedo van der Garde’s motive to merely maximise his cash payout position he would surely have pressed the issue and forced Ericsson and Nasr out of the F1 weekend. Yet the Dutchman chose another course of action.

As was suggested in the previous TJ13 Sauber feature article yesterday, from 2016 onwards it becomes progressively difficult to obtain an F1 super license. Van der Garde is not scheduled to race in any other series and whilst he qualifies for a super license in 2016 under the points system, by 2017 he would not. However, Giedo would qualify in 2017 were he to race 5 F1 grand prix this year and 5 races in 2016.

If Sauber accept this reasoning as his motivation for the legal action to date, even his co-drivers Nasr and Ericsson would surely understand Giedo’s plight.

Setting aside the Machiavellian theories, which see Van der Garde’s father-in-law plotting to bankrupt Sauber and then buy them on the cheap – this is a reasonable proposition.

Whatever the behind the scenes agenda, the behaviour of Van der Garde and his legal team has been to promote goodwill and obtain a result where the dutchman drives at some point this year.

So maybe 3 drivers into 2 cars will eventually be the order of the day – and Monisha devotees will get their ménage a trois after all.

23 responses to “Van der Garde v Sauber cease-fire

  1. “However, Giedo would qualify were he to race 5 F1 grand prix this year.”

    So here we have it: The Sleeping Beauty’s first unwanted, unintended consequence of the piss-poor attempt to regulate who qualifies for a superlicence.

    Let us recall that this was a knee-jerk reaction to the shellacking they got for accepting a teenager in the sport, the test-tube Maximilian. Put differently, when all that the Little One needed to do was to put in a mandatory age requirement, he went for it and attempted to regulate exhaustively in the proudest Napoleonic and French traditions, forgetting that real-life is difficult to perfectly, fully fit into lofty legalese and principled principles…

  2. First, let me just say that I’m glad to see you explore a bit more thoroughly the possible motivations of Mr. van der Garde.

    Second, if GvdG is already eligible for his 2016 Super License due to his full 2013 F1 season, then… he doesn’t require 2015 seat time.

    Third, it’s interesting that Guido has thrown in the towel after it was already too late. It was already known on Friday that he won’t be able to race because he doesn’t have a Super License and wouldn’t be able to obtain one in time. Because Sauber had gone through the motions of complying via their seat fitting exercise, it weakened GvdG’s legal argument to impound equipment & cars, and throw Monisha in jail.

    Fourth, Sauber had argued in the Victoria court that they notified the Drivers Contract Recognition Board (CRB) in February that Guido’s contract was terminated for breach of confidentiality (he spoke to media). If that actually didn’t happen (CRB notified…), then that’s perjury, contempt of court etc. (more bad news for Sauber). If did notify the CRB of that, then GvdG and Sauber will need to register a contract the CRB.

    Fifth, what if the contract is now terminated due to breach of confidentiality? (Seems unlikely, based on how weakly and poorly Sauber’s case was argued in OZ’s courts, but it may be possible.) If true, that weakens GvdG’s abilities to continue to strong arm Sauber for a race seat or money. I don’t recall hearing GvdG’s lawyer making a strong case against that argument, which is why I ask this question.

    Guido’s end-game still appears to be unknown…

    • Dauber had no arguments whatsoever. The fact that VdG didn’t have a Superlicense was down to the fact that Sauber refused to sign, which they are obliged to do. Giedo and his national motorsports association had applied in time. Sauber wantonly stalled for time. It was an utter display of travesty.
      It is obvious that Giedo’s goal is not to take Sauber down. Had he gone ahead impounding their assents they would have missed the cargo flight to Malysia on Monday and considering they can’t even pay their hotel bill, that would have been the end of it.
      It all boils down to one goal, he wants that drive and he will get it one way or the other. Kaltenborn is toast after that shambolic week.

        • While it is likely that Sauber found this get-out to terminate the contract, it is obvious from the signing of Erikson and Nasr that they had no intention of honoring it so in some ways that point it moot.

          Had VdG not spoken out and just turned up to Melbourne expecting to race his situation would have been no better.

          He needed to make a point here and probably couldn’t have done it much better or more sympathetically.

      • It’s not obvious what Guido and his manager, Jan Paul ten Hoopen want from Sauber.

        If we take Guido at his word, he wants to drive. But he and his managers are likely smart enough to know the odds of him racing for Sauber are small.

        In reality, the most appropriate goals, in order, are:
        1) Get as much of his money back as possible.
        2) Apply as much pain as possible to Sauber for disrespecting him and their agreement.

        So Mr. Jan Paul ten Hoopen ( @BernardHoop on twitter) and Guido worked hard, going to arbitration, and figuring out how to enforce arbitration rulings at the most painful times, to meet those goals.

        The key, as I had mentioned in a comment earlier, is that Sauber has no cash (at least if you ask them for cash, they’ll tell you that), but they have something much more valuable: their race seats. Because Guido had a legal binding contract to one of those seats, he and Mr. ten Hoopen figured they had Sauber by the short-hairs.

        To use an Americanism, I believe Guido and Mr. ten Hoopen are playing hard ball; coming in high and inside on Monisha repeatedly. But not because they really want the seat, but because they want to hurt Sauber, and they squeeze Sauber hard for their money.

        • I agree with the general opinion from the TJ13 crew that Guido is no after money. He could have negotiated some compensation from Sauber long before now if that was his aim.

          What I can’t decide is whether he is genuinely expecting to get a seat or whether he is trying to make a point almost for the good of the sport and his fellow pay drivers.

          If he gets a seat out of it I’m sure he won’t object at all but I think the main aim is just to say to Sauber and other teams that they must take contracts seriously. Hopefully it will also make the FIA realise the unintended consequences of their new Superlicence rules. After all, why should a drive who has previously raced a season in F1 no longer be eligible?

          • Mr. Hughes said, “I agree with the general opinion from the TJ13 crew that Giedo is no after money. He could have negotiated some compensation from Sauber long before now if that was his aim.”

            Wait! How could Giedo have negotiated compensation from Sauber? Sauber refused to communicate with Giedo. As Estaban Gutierrez has described from his experience, even if Sauber was communicating, it wouldn’t have been productive.

            Whatever the motives of Giedo and his management, they were very limited in how they could engage Sauber. The team are poor, and ignore driver’s contracts when it suits their interests.

            Sauber’s primary asset, and in the eyes of Giedo’s management their biggest weak spot, is their race seats because the seats are primary sources of income of the team.

            Having a legal claim to one of the seats enables Giedo’s management to obtain what they want from the team. If they want money, then Sauber (or other sponsors, same diff) will have to pay. If they want Giedo to race, then Sauber may be forced to have him race their car. If they want to humiliate / embarrass Sauber for disrespecting Giedo and his contract, well… score and well done!

            Candidly, given how poor and desperate Sauber is, retrieving his money back from them would be a very painful lesson for Sauber, and an example to other teams in the paddock.

            Previously Giedo took successful legal action against another team (FI, née Spyker) in 2010 and consequently retrieved his money back from them. It’s a path and goal he is very familiar with.

  3. To better understand Guido’s end-game vis a vis Sauber, it would require the press to do two things:

    1) Examine Guido’s F1 history, how he broke in to F1, how he moved from team to team, etc.

    That is an interesting story in itself, and it’s many drivers are quietly glad to see Guido turning the screws on Monisha and Sauber. His story appears to be typical of a successful, talented driver, rising through the ranks, cultivating sponsors, and relationships with teams, etc. That is in fact the story of all F1 drivers from the most successful to the not as successful.

    2) Examine closely Guido’s words. Even his personal PR today for example.

    This article here by the Judge is a good start, and I commend TJ13 for it!

  4. Looks like Mr E has seen enough and “counselled” all parties involved. GvdG has certainly handled himself well throughout the week, Sauber would do well to ensure that a speedy resolution is reached.
    GvdG hasn’t hurt his chances in the future, he has shown sponsors (current & future) that he is committed to them and ensuring their investment is fulfilled.

    • I’ve not seen any evidence of Bernie / FOM involvement in this mess. (Perhaps I’ve overlooked it.)

      One can argue that is in Bernie’s interest for Sauber to die, since it would improve FOM’s declining profit margins. (Given his legal background and history, he may have some tacit admiration for the feisty tenacity of Guido’s management in pursuing their goals.)

      In addition, Guido’s own words are interesting in that he mentions his respect for the FIA’s interest, but did not include FOM’s interests:

      “I also wish to respect the interest of the FIA, Sauber Motorsport, as well as Nasr and Ericsson.”

  5. What seems to be missing here is a statement from the Contract Recognition Board (CRB) confirming that the contact is indeed cancelled and how that affects the earlier decision to allow him to drive.

    • Even if the contract had been legally cancelled there is still a strong legal argument that Sauber had no intention of honouring it anyway so this is fairly irrelevant in the scheme of things – other than had it not been cancelled then Sauber are in even deeper water.

  6. This whole thing has been a great sideshow, but I don’t think we should get too carried away and think it’s all happening in a fishbowl with entirely incompetent actors (despite appearances).

    If nothing else, I expect that GvdG might have got a phonecard last night from a gnome-like figure saying “That’s enough”.

    Similarly, I’d say the same figure would have strongly suggested to Sauber to sort it out.

    Like us, I’m sure BE would have been enjoying the show in his old-school way – any publicity is good publicity. He’s no mug in his own way.

  7. Just listening to the Sky commentary not Brundle the other guy “its a case that has been sorted legally but not between the concerned parties”

    what absolute utter blatant spin. Who wrote that?

    and it’s not confined to the beeb and usually not so clueful media outlets, this spin. JS went with the headline that they settled. My surprise and questions as to why are presently unwelcome there in the comments, however. I suspect the hand of the FIA and Bernie and said as much before hand. But ignoring this case is not the right policy for any publication, for it touches on far too many aspects that bedevil F1..

  8. I probably should collect my thoughts on this one, as I expended a lot of pixels that went to the great bitbucket in another outlet’s server… I think if anything this might be the one case many have been waiting for: a means to get the FIA in the dock and find out really what’s going on with this sport…

  9. John (other john), agree with you on JS, sadly too blinkered on this one (some might say entrenched in the trough that feeds).

    As an aside, your posts always make sense but would be so much better if a little more concise. You do tend to ramble a bit.

    • Hi Phil, there’s been something not right I can’t fully explain just lately. And I don’t think I took leave of my faculties suddenly. I think something kinda broke like gloves taken off and warnings given. Not only just JS and around him. There’s been hysteria about Sauber enough and there’s hysteria about calling Mercedes-Benz to heel and all sorts. And there’s been silly squabbling getting in the way of discovering what may be the problem generally.

      I’ll work on the brevity! I think here has a filter for too many words just for me B-)

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