MELBOURNE: Formula One team Sauber have sought to overturn an Australian court verdict that found in favour of Dutch driver Giedo van der Garde`s bid to force the Swiss outfit to let him drive for them this season.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Victoria state upheld a Swiss arbitration tribunal`s decision that had ordered Sauber to refrain from taking action to deprive Van der Garde from racing for them.
Van der Garde had charged Sauber with reneging on a deal to give him a race seat after they signed Sweden`s Marcus Ericsson and Brazilian Felipe Nasr.
Four days before the first race of the season in Melbourne, Supreme Court Justice Clyde Croft said Van der Garde`s application was successful and would be enforced.
But Sauber appealed the verdict within hours of it being handed down by the Melbourne court.
The appeal was heard from 3:15 p.m local time in Melbourne (0415 GMT) on Wednesday but after some deliberation, was deferred until 9:30 a.m. on Thursday (2230 GMT Wednesday), a court spokesman confirmed.
After the initial ruling, Van der Garde had said he was "looking forward" to going back to the team and driving for them this weekend at Albert Park.
"I still have a very good relation with the team," he told reporters in Melbourne.
Lawyers for Sauber had argued handing Van der Garde a seat so late before the race was an unacceptable safety risk.
"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," Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber CEO and team principal, said in a statement after the initial verdict.
The legal battle comes amid concerns over the financial health of a number of Formula One teams.
Ericsson and Nasr replaced German Adrian Sutil and Mexican Esteban Gutierrez at Sauber, each bringing substantial financial backing.
Nasr`s seat has brought sponsorship from Banco do Brasil, while Ericsson brings other backers.
Either drivers` displacement to make way for Van der Garde could prove problematic for Sauber`s commercial arrangements in a sport renowned for its astronomical running costs.