Sauber argue Van der Garde drive would be dangerous

Giedo van der Garde

The legal judgment on Giedo van der Garde’s attempt to force the Sauber team to let him drive for them in the upcoming Formula 1 season has been reserved until Wednesday, the Supreme Court of the Australian state of Victoria said on Monday.

The case was heard in Melbourne but a decision will not be handed down until Wednesday, two days before the first free practice session for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

The Dutchman was a test driver for the Swiss team last season and is claiming Sauber reneged on a deal to give him a race seat in 2015.

A Swiss arbitration tribunal had ordered the team to refrain from taking action to deprive Van der Garde from taking part in the 2015 season as one of the team’s two nominated race drivers.

The 29-year-old driver brought an application to Supreme Court of Victoria to enforce the tribunal’s decision.

“Judgment reserved in F1 driver Giedo van der Garde dispute against Sauber, to Wed, 10am,” read a message posted on the court’s official Twitter feed.

Sauber, who failed to score a point last season, have signed Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson and Brazilian Felipe Nasr as their race drivers, with Italian Raffaele Marciello as reserve for 2015.

Earlier Sauber argued that allowing their former driver Giedo van der Garde to race in the Australian Grand Prix would be a safety risk.

Both sides acknowledge that the 29-year-old has a valid contract to race this year, but Sauber signed the higher-paying Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr instead as the Hinwil based team struggled for financial survival.

Sauber is therefore fighting van der Garde’s bid to race in 2015, starting with Sunday’s season opener in Australia.

The team’s lawyer told the Melbourne court on Monday that allowing the Dutchman to race this weekend would be dangerous because the C34 car is designed only for the bodies of Ericsson and Nasr who were both present in court, as was van der Garde.

The Sauber lawyer said the 2015 Sauber reaches speeds “in excess of 300kph”, exposing its occupants to forces of “up to five times their bodyweight”.

“Mr Van der Garde has no experience driving the C34 Ferrari and would not have sufficient time to learn,” Rodney Garratt QC told the judge.

Sauber has also said it does not even have the right seatbelt in Melbourne for van der Garde, making it “reckless and dangerous” to let him drive, the lawyer told the judge, according to local broadcaster ABC.

“It (letting him race) would result in an unacceptable risk of physical harm or even death” not just for van der Garde but also spectators, Garratt reportedly said.

Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn also told the Swiss newspaper Blick it was “inappropriate to comment”.

“But we will do everything to defend the interests of Sauber. We have a difficult year behind us, but have made every effort to create a good situation for 2015,” she said.