More bizarre behaviour from Sauber

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Today the final announcements came surrounding the dispute between Giedo Van Der Garde and the Sauber F1 team. The Dutchman had won a string of rulings enforcing his contract to drive for the Swiss team during the 2015 season.

Giedo issued a statement on Facebook where he reveals it was money from his sponsors, which kept the Sauber team afloat during last season.

“There has been a lot of speculation in the media over the past week, so I want to set out clearly that my sponsors paid the sponsorship fee related to the 2015 season in its entirety to Sauber in the first half of 2014.

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”.

During the Austin Grand Prix in 2014, it became apparent that Monisha Kaltenborn had signed contracts with two new drivers for 2015, whilst having previously agreed written contracts with both Adrian Sutil and Giedo Van der Garde.

In his statement, Van der Garde identifies Monisha Kaltenborn as the single obstacle to him being allowed his right to drive this year.

“I am a race driver and all I want is to race. However, the team principal was adamant not to let me drive, notwithstanding my legal rights to do so and a series of rulings and court orders in my favour and despite my race driving abilities. I will never understand this. 

I could have persisted, but the team principal had taken a decision contrary to my contract that she would not work with me and this became painfully clear in the paddock in Melbourne.

To push on against this determination might have brought down the team, it would most certainly have wrecked the opening Grand Prix in Melbourne because the team’s cars would have been seized by the court, it may have ruined the careers of two young drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. Possibly the team´s directors would even be taken into custody.

I decided I did not want to live with that idea, even though it was only the team’s management that was responsible for the bizarre situation I found myself I”.

The $16m dollar compensation Sauber reportedly will have to pay, will almost certainly be in excess of what extra money one of the new drivers has brought this year. To that end, it is likely there will be more tales of financial woe emerging from Hinwil in the coming weeks.

Sauber then released a response to Van der Garde’s statement – which was met across social media with contempt. Thousands of individuals expressed their support for Van der Garde and their disgust at Sauber and Kaltenborn.

“Many of you read today’s statement on Giedo van der Garde’s Facebook page. So have we and we were, indeed, rather surprised. We don’t know about Giedo’s intentions. He may try to present himself as a winner, while we had actually hoped to come to rest after our agreement. Giedo decided to take a different approach – the reasoning behind we cannot understand.

“We’d have very good answers to the many statements and accusations in Giedo’s post. But to expand on this wouldn’t help our race team nor our fans and partners. It would only encourage a mud fight via the media and we will not lend ourselves to that. The next race in Malaysia is where our focus is and that’s where we will build up on last weekend’s success together with our drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. All our efforts are drawn to this objective.

“With this in mind we’d like to encourage you to form your own opinion about what happened, however critical it may be. From our side we herewith close the matter and look already forward to celebrating future achievements at the race track together with you.

“Yours sincerely, Sauber F1 Team”

 

This non-justification statement issued to in some way as justification of Sauber and Kaltenborn’s behaviour, is most bizarre.

Clearly both the Swiss team and Kaltenborn had presented their ‘many answers’ to numerous judges, all of whom had found them without merit. Sauber’s claim to the court that it would be ‘risking lives’ to put Van der Garde in the car was disingenuous beyond belief and justice Croft treated it accordingly.

This affair has exposed Monisha Kaltenborn to have acted in a reckless manner which jeopardised her team’s very existence. As TJ13 reported last weekend, Justice Croft of the Supreme Court of Victoria – had made it clear that unless the petition for contempt of court against Sauber was withdrawn, he would have no choice but to enforce it. This action would have seen the Sauber cars seized and Kaltenborn imprisoned.

Further, had Van der Garde pursued his legal right of resolution, the timeline for resolving this matter would not have been expedited in any way to ensure Sauber did not fail to breach their contract with FOM. The team could easily have missed 3 and more races whilst the matter was resolved.

Refusing Van der Garde his legal right last weekend, again put the Sauber team at risk, because at no point was the dutchman obliged to take a financial settlement.

Further, it is unlikely that Van der Garde has accepted any kind of delayed payment terms, due to the contemptuous ‘foot dragging’ behaviour Sauber had previously demonstrated.

Whilst it is understandable that the manner in which the smaller teams in Formula One are financed makes life difficult – if not impossible at times; there is no excuse for taking money from a driver, giving him a contract – then tearing it up because as CEO you have failed to manage the team budget properly.

Sauber’s botched attempt at an explanation of the inexplicable caught short shift on social media. Thousands took to commenting.

@jayem80 If that’s the best press release could come up with, I think they need to have a long look at themselves.

@Jpostmen  Shame on you, during court it was clear was ‘the winner’ made a mess so don’t judge him about a mudfight

@22Actual So you want us to form our own opinions and just take your word that you are right, and VDG and the courts of Australia, and Switzerland, are wrong? Someone needs to go back to PR school…

Scott Franklin and others replied directly to Sauber on facebook

The court says that you screwed Giedo. We all saw that you signed more drivers than you had seats for. To use an American colloquialism, it seems that you “robbed Peter to pay Paul”. You have permanently lost a fan in me. I will actively avoid all of your sponsors. We don’t need thieves in F1.

Cal Mackenzie Monisha, get out of F1 simple as that! you have ruined any respect that I had for Sauber and the good name of Peter!

Josh Hayes I am really, really disappointed. I have been a real fan of yours (Sauber) since the mid 90’s, however this whole situation has tarnished many years of support. Like others have said, the court ruled in favour of Giedo, so it makes it quite difficult to see that you were not at fault. What’s most concerning is such a low level of professionalism carried throughout, only to be backed up by this Facebook post. If I were you, the only things I’d be looking ‘forward’ to are hiring individuals who can work toward carrying the company/team in a more professional manner

Rodrigo Ocampo Córdova As I see it, its very simple, you had a contract with him, and you did not respect it, you should be grateful to him that he didnt go all the way in Australia, otherwise your succes story would have turned in to a horror story…

MrWizzrd45 offers an interpretation of the Sauber statement

We have a very good complete lack of answers to the many statements and accusations in Giedo’s post. And to expand on them would point out how ruthless our race team is our fans and partners. It would only encourage a complete loss of respect with the media and we have now resigned ourselves to that. The next race in Malaysia is where our focus is because that’s where we will completely deflect blame on to our drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. All our efforts are drawn hoping everyone forgets about this as soon as possible.

Tall and happy provides another

“We were wrong. You know we were. We know we were. But we won’t admit that. True, it was obvious, and Giedo today rubs that in. However, we do hope that by making vague statements and pretending to be the “better person” right now, you will be confused into thinking that we’re still the good guys. Let’s hope that works. Thank you for your support”

 

Van der Garde’s full statement:

‘We have reached a settlement with Sauber and my driver contract with the team has been ended by mutual consent. 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.

I had a valid driver contract for the entire 2015 season and enforceable rights to it. 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.

I am a race driver and all I want is to race. However, the team principal was adamant not to let me drive, notwithstanding my legal rights to do so and a series of rulings and court orders in my favour and despite my race driving abilities. I will never understand this. I could have persisted, but the team principal had taken a decision contrary to my contract that she would not work with me and this became painfully clear in the paddock in Melbourne. To push on against this determination might have brought down the team, it would most certainly have wrecked the opening Grand Prix in Melbourne because the team´s cars would have been seized by the court, it may have ruined the careers of two young drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. Possibly the team´s directors would even be taken into custody. I decided I did not want to live with that idea, even though it was only the team’s management that was responsible for the bizarre situation I found myself in.

I am very grateful to my fans and many friends in Formula One who have given me a lot of support during the last couple of months. This period has been very difficult for me especially since I could not talk to anybody about the pending proceedings. Last week, many drivers on the grid gave me their support and several of them did so openly in the media as well. The same goes for several leading figures in the paddock who include team bosses and reputable former Formula One drivers. I thank them as well.

My future in motorsport has not finished: on the contrary, I see this as a new beginning. I will sit down with my management in the coming weeks to discuss my future plans. I would love to take part in the WEC and the Le Mans 24 Hours in an LMP1 car. Former Formula One drivers do very well in this series. We also have our eye on other series such as the DTM in 2016 and beyond.

There has been a lot of speculation in the media over the past week, so I want to set out clearly that my sponsors paid the sponsorship fee related to the 2015 season in its entirety to Sauber in the first half of 2014. 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.

Sauber’s financial decision-making in this case is bizarre and makes no sense to me. I am not at liberty to discuss details, but Sauber paid significant compensation to avoid honouring the contract they had with me. Only in that respect can I be satisfied that my rights have finally been recognised and that at least some justice has been done.

I want to thank McGregor for sponsoring me from the time I won the Formula Renault 3.5 Ltr. Series in 2008. I hope we can continue to build on this as my motorsport career goes forward in other series.

I want to thank my family, my father Gerrit and my wife Denise in particular, for their tireless support throughout the years that I have been chasing my Formula One dream. The last couple of months have been especially hard for me but they have always stood by me. Of course, I also want to thank my father-in-law, Marcel Boekhoorn, who has been a great supporter during my entire career through the motorsport ranks. Without him, I would not have got this far.

I also thank Jeroen Schothorst and Jan Paul ten Hoopen for managing my career and business affairs since 2008 and in particular for their unconditional support during these last four and a half months. I also extend thanks to my legal advisor Gijs Rooijens and the law firms, Druces, Blackstone Chambers and King & Wood Mallesons (Australia), that worked very hard and enthusiastically – sometimes literally day and night and during weekends – to fight for my rights.

Finally, I would like to direct a few words to the teams, drivers, future drivers, their managers and the Formula One governing bodies. I sincerely hope that what has happened to me will start a movement aimed at setting new standards and bringing about new regulations to help protect the rights of drivers. I would like to think that the values and business ethics that apply in any other business should be equally applicable in Formula One. I am lucky to have had Marcel and Jeroen on my side. Both of them have extensive backgrounds in business and bring a lot of expertise to the table when it comes to resolving complicated business affairs. Without them, I would have remained empty-handed in the wake of this extraordinary affair. There are numerous examples of talented drivers with good intentions but without the sort of professional support that I have had, who have been broken by Formula One and who have seen their careers destroyed. I therefore hope that my unprecedented case which was heard last week by the Supreme Court of Victoria at Melbourne will serve as an example to illustrate what should change, and that new regulations will be implemented to help protect driver rights.’

For more information and questions, please send an e-mail to: contact@giedovandergarde.com

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32 responses to “More bizarre behaviour from Sauber

  1. Sauber invite us to draw our own conclusions, yet to do that we need all the facts, and so far we only have one side (Van der Garde). Surely they can see that this will only lead to disillusionment with the team?

    • Van der Garde also makes a good point in that with proper preparation, it’s likely he would have done at least as well as Ericsson in Melbourne, and would now be a points scorer in F1 with the prospect of scoring many more this season.

      This leads me to think it must be a monetary decision. Surely Ericsson promised them enough to trump Van der Garde’s backing, with Nasr as a suitable replacement in the same vein for the lost backing behind Bianchi or Sutil. Arguably the best line up would have been Bianchi-Nasr! But Nasr-Van der Garde probably trumps Nasr-Ericsson.

      • Just theoretically if Sauber claimed impecunity in their presumable warranty at court if suddenly a pile of cash appears that wasn’t mentioned they could even be reasonably asked to appear again over the quantum damages.

        There’s been some disregard for the majesty of court lately. As it just the next Melbourne GP is not for a year?

        Sometimes two parties can be seen running from the steps on the strand both convinced they screwed the other … Usually much regret ensues.

  2. It would’ve been better had Sauber not issued a statement to counter Giedo’s. The damage had already been done and that statement did nothing to alleviate this embarrassing moment in the teams history.

    Right after issuing that statement, they then unvailed their new sponsor, Singapore Airlines.

    • Right after issuing that statement, they then unvailed their new sponsor, Singapore Airlines.

      And then a few minutes later, they issued another press release…confirming that they’d also just signed British Airways as Sauber’s Official Airline Partner.

      lol

      • That’s just the Warsaw Convention protecting passengers from force majeure so they can travel if double booked…

    • Yes, you’re absolutely right. They didn’t need to release anything.

      Ironically, upon the release GvdG’s initial long-winded statement, some of the public reaction was negative toward him.

      If Sauber had not put their PR foot in their own mouth, they would’ve been much better off. A horrible example of PR by Sauber today.

      • Even he is an ass as well, all he had to do was issue a statement to just thank the team and move on, but to get down into such detail, was not necessary.

        • Yes, it was. He wants to help other drivers in the future. That requires some detail, so they won’t let themselves be screwed the same way.

  3. Can’t wait to see Joe Saward’s next blog post on this!!! How can he keep siding with Sauber & Kaltenborn, LOL

  4. Something that isn’t exactly clear to me but if I read the statement of van der Garde I get the idea that Sauber was actually stealing his sponsor’s money, am I right? I mean his sponsor paid them to let Giedo drive and even paid them early to help them out and then Sauber let 2 other guys also pay for the same service.

    Nobody is stupid enough to not realize they were stealing someone’s money and this especially make me question the endorsement given by Peter Sauber to Ms. Kaltenborn a few days ago. How can a sane person do this?

    • Yeah I thought this was bad enough last year, before any mention that Guido had already paid in advance for this year… And then to ignore the court orders and risk going to jail and potentially destroy the team… Incredibly reckless and incomprehensible behaviour.
      Kaltenborn appears to be the devil, and due to his endorsement of her behaviour I’ve lost all faith in Peter sauber. For me, the way this affair is being handled puts a stain over the whole history of his formerly respected team. Sauber used to be my favourite smaller team, and as a fan of f1 I know we can’t afford to keep losing these teams, but I now actually hope this send them bankrupt.

      • Going bankrupt is maybe a step too far but I wouldn’t mind a manafacturer taking over (please Renault take Sauber ;-P) and throw her out. She has no place in the sport any more and it would be best for Sauber and the sport if she leaves.

        • You’re right. Their latest reply just really pushes my buttons… But yes I wouldn’t want their staff (management excepted) to lose their jobs. Second you in hoping for a buyout.

  5. Cause of correlation the talk about third cars coming back when we thought that was dead???

  6. Rethorical question I suppose but how can MK still have her job? As mentioned above, PR is not her forte and clearly there are better lawyers out there. What is she good at? It’s not like she designed their latest car…the car seems too good for her to have anything to do with it, in my opinion.

        • Well, maybe she is. I mean look at it; for ‘whatever’ reason Sauber got out of the situation with nothing but having to return the monies paid in advance (with prevented them going bust), presumably some court fees, but now they have two better drivers with oodles of cash, and look like taking some serious prize money home this year. So probably an alright team principle and lawyer… as clearly whatever she did that we don’t know about has done the trick.

          However, she is clearly a fairly ruthless and amoral person, and also HORRIFIC at PR! Lol, I guess you can’t win them all.

          I do think I am finally getting sick of F1.

          • How can you get sick of F1, it’s like a badly written soap opera that you tell yourself you won’t watch anymore, but just can’t fight the urge…. 🙂 🙂

          • … due to the incomprehensible sequence of events the bad writing portrays – which have no basis in reality – surely???

          • ^^ What the Judge said, and in addition, it also got sickening when the balance between good news scripts and bad news scripts got way out of whack, so now it views like one endless Christmas special episode of Eastenders… filled with kids burning in pub fires, and alcoholics knocking folks over drink driving.

          • … I suspect in 2015 it isn’t going to improve. Sauber are practically bust – so their early season form will fade quickly. Lotus and Force India are still in sell, sell, sell mode… and we’ve still got the likes of Coulthard behaving like a dinosaur hoping for a return to the good old days where engines cost 5 million.

            When the big issues of income distribution and cost control are perpetually never addressed.

          • Judge,

            It’s almost a Tontine last one standing takes all.

            You can’t divide and rule dissolved teams.

            Has a nuclear option already been selected?

            How much nicer four or five manufacturers sell five engine deals each?

            Not one independent seems secure. Even McClaren I could see preferring a future in motor making..Maybe to return some day. They could convince most that LMP demands dedication for a young sports car marque.

          • To late.. Mclaren has withdrawn from F1 to focus on Le Mans with their new LMP1 racer.

          • And check this out: http://wtf1.co.uk/sausage-kerbs-eau-rouge/
            They are trying to harm another F1 driver apparently. I feel this is an incredibly dumb idea. Imagine running over those sausage curbs at 250-300 km/h… We already have Alonso, Raikkonen and Bottas with previous back injuries…

  7. “rather surprised”
    Well, if that’s all they were, then Giedo was right, because if he was wrong, they’d be more than “rather surprised” but they’d be calling their solicitor to sue.

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