CRISIS FOR SAUBER: Giedo van der Garde, sidelined by Sauber in Australia, now has the law on his side with a court order to drive. Image: AFP
MELBOURNE, Australia - An Australian court has found in favour of Dutch driver Giedo van der Garde in his bid to force the Sauber Formula 1 team to let him drive for them this season.
"The application is successful and... will be enforced," Justice Clyde Croft told the Supreme Court of Victoria in handing down his judgment on Wednesday (March 11 2015), four days before the first race of the season in Melbourne.
The Melbourne court upheld a Swiss arbitration tribunal's decision ordering Sauber to refrain from taking action to deprive Van der Garde from racing for them.
READY TO DRIVE
"I'm very fit and very strong," the Dutchman told reporters in Melbourne. "I'm looking forward to going back to the team and we'll work hard to do our best for this weekend. I still have a very good relationship with the team.
“I'm looking forward to racing this weekend."
Van der Garde had charged Sauber with reneging on a deal to give him a race seat by signing Sweden's Marcus Ericsson and Brazilian Felipe Nasr.
Van der Garde's lawyer Tom Clarke said his client's attempts to get in touch with Sauber had not drawn a response. "Mr Van der Garde remains ready, willing and able to perform his obligations. He wishes to meet with the team. He wishes to have his seat... organised and he can do so forthwith.
"Unfortunately our email last night at 7:44 (pm. Melbourne time) has gone unresponded to but we would call on Sauber Motor Sport AG to fulfill its obligations and meet with Mr. Sauber forthwith."
SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT
Lawyers for Sauber had argued that handing Van der Garde a seat (at such a late stage) was an unacceptable safety risk.
Sauber, which scored zero points in 2014, now faces a dilemma heading into the season-opener at Albert Park.
Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber CEO and team principal, said in a statement: “We are disappointed by this decision and now need to take time to understand what it means and the impact it will have on the start of our season.
“What we cannot do is jeopardise the safety of our team, or any other driver on the track, by having an unprepared driver in a car that has now been tailored to two other assigned drivers."
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