F1 has seen its fair share of controversy, but an F1 driver suing their own team is a rare occurrence. However, this is exactly what Dutch driver Giedo van der Garde has done to Sauber, after taking the Swiss company to court over claims that he had been unfairly dismissed.
The F1 reserve driver, who drove for the Caterham F1 team in 2013 before joining Sauber as a reserve driver in 2014, has now secured his place on the 2015 grid, following legal wranglings with the team, as he argued that he had a valid contract to race in the upcoming season. Despite this, Sauber had signed Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr to the team instead.
Following a ruling by Switzerland's Arbitration Institution in van de Garde's favour, a further hearing took place on Monday at Australia's Victorian Supreme Court. At this hearing the court ruled that the driver's claim that he was entitled to race at the Australian grand prix was "successful and it will be enforced," reports Car Throttle.
In response to this, team principal at Sauber, Monisha Kaltenborn said: ""We are disappointed with this decision and now need to take time to understand what it means and the impact it will have on the start of our season.
Despite the ruling, whether van der Garde will be able to race remains uncertain, as Ericsson and Nasr both hold 2015 contracts. Consequently, whichever drivers man the cars this weekend, another driver's contract will be breached.
Worse news for Sauber comes from Justice Croft who stated that van der Garde's claim to drive "applies to the whole of the 2015 Formula 1 Season – not just the coming few days in Melbourne.
Sauber has since launched an appeal against this decision, with the hearing resuming on Thursday morning. Whatever happens, there's likely to be a high amount of tension in the Sauber pit at the Australian GP.