Three drivers won’t fit into Two cars for Sauber F1 team
13 March 2015 by Marketing Team
Formula One is back in our lives this weekend as the season kicks off with the first race at Melbourne Australia. As usual the season promises tight racing, loud action as much off-track action as there is on-track. This time around they’ve already kicked off with a bang but not for the reasons you might think….
The Supreme Court of Victoria, in Australia, ruled earlier this week that Dutch Formula 1 driver Gideo van der Garde should be allowed to race for the Sauber F1 Team in the Melbourne Grand Prix tomorrow.
While that may not seem out of the ordinary at first having been their test driver last year, it’s a decision that actually means that Sauber have employed three drivers as they actually signed two new drivers for this year: Three drivers – Two cars; Something’s got to give….
Van der Garde’s case against Sauber began at the end of 2014, when he claimed to have been unfairly dismissed after working as a test driver, and could prove that he had been offered a race seat for the 2015 season.
The alleged and upheld reason for Van der Garde’s dismissal was to make way for Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr, two drivers Sauber believed would bring a better monetary income to the team, believed to be in the region of around £12million each.
Sauber’s actions are evidence of the poor financial situation that many of the smaller Formula 1 teams are in. After Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari, the three largest teams, the rest are finding it evermore difficult in F1’s current climate to find enough money to stay competitive.
Sauber’s willingness to disregard Van der Garde’s valid contract is therefore understandable to some with the team’s entire future at risk, but is still shocking to the majority.
The Formula 1 community has largely warmed towards Van der Garde, with fellow drivers Jenson Button, Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa all speaking out in support of his case, with Massa holding the views that “if there is a contract then that should be respected” and that “drivers should stand up for their rights”.
In terms of the race weekend, it will be fascinating to see what happens next, as Sauber have found themselves in a bit of a catch-22. In order for Van der Garde to race, either Ericsson or Nasr will have to step aside, and if they do, Sauber will likely be sued again for breach of contract by the driver relegated to the pits. The alternative is the very real risk of being held in contempt of court, with the teams assets (including their cars) being seized and a potential spell in prison for Principal Monisha Kaltenborn if Van der Garde is not allowed to drive.
The latest noises from Melbourne are that the case for Sauber being held in Contempt of Court has been adjourned till tomorrow morning with the parties being urged to “talk seriously about resolving this matter by agreement” in the meantime.
It is hard to see how a team run by a qualified lawyer could have landed themselves in such a contractual mess, but it serves as a stark reminder of the need to obtain up to date legal advice when addressing employment problems!
Our Employment Department here at Fisher Jones Greenwood can provide legal advice on an array of issues, whether you are an employee or an employer, and whether you are looking for prevention or trying to find a cure. Please contact either Beth Baird or Lawrence Adams on 01245 890110 or by email at [email protected] or [email protected].