Giedo Van der Garde won`t race in Melbourne Grand Prix

Formula One driver Giedo van der Garde Saturday said he would give up his right to compete in the Australian Grand Prix, ending a legal saga which threatened to overshadow the season-opening race.

AFP| Last Updated: Mar 14, 2015, 09:30 AM IST
Giedo Van der Garde won`t race in Melbourne Grand Prix

Melbourne: Formula One driver Giedo van der Garde Saturday said he would give up his right to compete in the Australian Grand Prix, ending a legal saga which threatened to overshadow the season-opening race.

"With respect to the interest of motorsport, and F1 in particular, I have decided to give up my legal rights to race this weekend at the Melbourne Grand Prix," the Dutch driver said on his Facebook page.

"As I am a passionate race driver this decision has been very difficult for me," he wrote, while a Victorian state court confirmed the Australian legal battle had ended.

Former reserve driver van der Garde took the case to court after claiming he was guaranteed a seat for the 2015 season by Sauber last year but they reneged on the deal.

Instead, the Swiss outfit had opted for heavily sponsored drivers Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson.

Van der Garde originally took his case to a Swiss arbitration tribunal, which ordered Sauber to keep him on the team. 

A Victoria Supreme Court ruling backed that decision on Wednesday, enforcing it in Australia, just days before the Grand Prix.

Sauber appealed that ruling but lost, prompting Van der Garde`s lawyers to argue that Sauber was in contempt of court by not complying with an order to honour a contract with the Dutchman and let him drive in the season-opener.

The events off the track dominated with threats of fines, jail and seizures of assets proposed as the dispute dragged on.

The parties came to some resolution in the Victorian Supreme Court on Saturday after the legal teams for the two sides had continued discussions through the night.

Van der Garde said he came to his decision out of respect for the interest of the "FIA, Sauber Motorsport, as well as Nasr and Ericsson".

"My management will continue talks with Sauber early next week to find a mutually acceptable solution for the current situation that has now arisen," he added.

"I am confident such solution will be found and I will inform the media once done."

Ericsson and Nasr were both listed on the boards as Sauber`s drivers on Friday, but the decision does not mean that Van der Garde has given up hopes of racing for the rest of the year.

In a statement, the Sauber F1 team confirmed it "has been able to agree with Mr Giedo Van der Garde that he refrains from driving in the Australian Formula One Grand Prix so it can keep its original planning".

Sauber said "constructive talks" with the driver and his management would continue in order to find a mutually acceptable solution. 

"The Sauber F1 Team is here to race in the Australian Formula One Grand Prix and that is what the team is now focusing on," it added.