Can Sauber and van der Garde do a deal by Saturday?

There was progress between Giedo van der Garde and Sauber on Friday, but, as Adam Cooper explains, there is still a long way to go before the matter is closed.

Discussions between the Giedo van der Garde camp and Sauber have no doubt been ongoing since Friday afternoon's latest court hearing in Melbourne, and the hope on both sides is that an agreement can be reached overnight.

Van der Garde's lawyer told the court that there had been "constructive discussions between the parties which are expected to continue this evening."

The next step will occur when the court reconvenes at 9.30am on Saturday.

If an agreement has been reached and both parties can satisfy the judge that everything has been sorted, that in theory should be the end of the matter, at least as far as the Melbourne weekend is concerned.

The big question is what form that agreement will take, as the problem of thee drivers and two seats has not gone away.

Logic suggests that the only realistic path would be a settlement which compensates van der Garde for forfeiting the seat.

It is common knowledge that his sponsors paid €8m for him to be a third driver last year as a lead in to a race seat in 2015, and any payment would presumably in effect represent a refund for that, possibly with some damages, legal costs and so on factored in on top.

As much as van der Garde genuinely wants to drive, there will be a point at which the figure offered by Sauber is sufficient for him to walk away from the team.

Financial struggles a big hurdle

The big problem is of course that Sauber has long been in dire financial straits, and it simply doesn't have a multi-million sum sitting around. The van der Garde camp is obviously aware of that, and clearly would not sign up to any deal without receiving some form of guarantee or security.

The obvious suspicion on their part would be that Sauber's promises might not be backed up once the team escaped the clutches of the Australian legal system next week.

If no agreement can be reached by Saturday morning then the likelihood is that the summons outlined in an earlier story will be issued.

Today Justice Croft mentioned an interim order, and that will probably mean that Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr are free to go ahead and compete for the rest of the weekend, but the cars would be seized by the court after the race, pending more court activity.

An extra problem for Sauber is that the cars and equipment could miss the slot for the FOM cargo flight to Malaysia, and would potentially then have to find an alternative way to get there.

In addition, action against Monisha Kaltenborn remains a real possibility, with the court having the power to seize her passport.

Despite the positive noises made by both sides today, this story is far from over...

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Australian GP
Track Albert Park Circuit
Drivers Giedo van der Garde , Marcus Ericsson , Felipe Nasr
Teams Sauber
Article type Analysis