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.
@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.’
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