Dutch Formula One driver Giedo van der Garde is seeking an urgent hearing in an Australian court to force the Sauber team to reinstate him as a driver ahead of next weekend’s season-opening race.
His lawyers lodged papers with the Victoria Supreme Court yesterday seeking a hearing on Monday in Melbourne, which is to host the Australian Grand Prix on March 15.
Van der Garde, who was a reserve driver with Sauber last season, claims to have a contract for a race seat this season, but the financially troubled team has appointed Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr as its drivers for this year, with both bringing lucrative sponsorship backing.
The 29-year-old Van der Garde is also considered a leading candidate to be appointed as a race driver for the Manor team, which has just come under new ownership that will allow the team to compete this season.
In documents lodged with the court, Van der Garde said he was guaranteed a spot on this year’s Sauber team on June 28 last year, but team bosses reneged on the deal.
“In early November 2014, Mr Van der Garde was informed by Sauber’s chief executive officer, Ms Monisha Kaltenborn, that Sauber’s two seats had been given to other drivers and that, as a consequence, Mr Van der Garde would not have a place as a driver in the team in 2015,” the documents say.
Van der Garde originally took his case to the Arbitration Institution in Switzerland, which ordered Sauber to keep him on the team.
“The respondent [Sauber] was ordered to refrain from taking any action the effect of which would be to deprive Mr Van der Garde of his entitlement to participate in the 2015 Formula One Season as one of Sauber’s two nominated race drivers,” court documents say.
The Victoria Supreme Court is likely to face jurisdictional and time restrictions against fully assessing the case before the weekend’s race, but does have power to enforce injunctions against individuals or teams participating in the local event, pending later rulings.
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