Formula 1

Van der Garde, key player in infamous Sauber F1 row, retires

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
2 min read

Ex-Formula 1 driver Giedo van der Garde has retired from racing aged 38, a decade on from the conclusion of his first and only season in grand prix racing.

The Dutchman, who won the 2008 Formula Renault 3.5 title and then put together four frontrunning but never quite title-contending seasons in F1's main feeder series GP2, finally got his F1 break in 2013 with the Tony Fernandes-owned Caterham team - having already represented the brand in GP2 (pictured below).

In his rookie F1 season, he would prove a credible team-mate and rival to F1 sophomore Charles Pic at Caterham.

But the team, both in its Caterham guise and in its earlier Team Lotus identity, never scored points in its five years in the championship, and its 2013 car, the Renault-engined CT03, was not meaningfully more competitive than its other offerings.

Van der Garde then pivoted to a reserve driver role at Sauber, his deal with the team leading to the infamous scandal over Sauber's 2015 line-up.

With Sauber set on running Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson but van der Garde insisting he had a valid contract for a Sauber seat, the Dutchman took successful legal action against the outfit - while also providing an instantly-memorable sight during that year's season-opening Australian Grand Prix by putting on Ericsson's overalls and entering Sauber's pit box.

He ultimately reached a settlement - agreeing to end his contract and allow Sauber to go forward with a Nasr/Ericsson line-up.

"I am not at liberty to discuss details, but Sauber paid significant compensation to avoid honouring the contract they had with me," a "sad and very disappointed" van der Garde said in a statement at the time.

He also admitted that "I know that my future in Formula 1 is probably over" - and he was correct.

Giedo van der Garde, F1

Van der Garde pivoted to sportscars in the aftermath, racing fairly consistently in the LMP2 class of first the European Le Mans Series - which he won in 2016 - and then the World Endurance Championship.

He competed full-time in IMSA last year, while also taking a second LMP2 class race win in WEC.

In a video posted on social media, van der Garde referenced his time in F1 as "making my dream come true" and his Sauber ordeal as "being knocked down and getting back up".

But he said his life now "revolves around my family and the love of my life" and newfound pursuits, namely his ongoing career as an F1 pundit.

"Therefore, today I say goodbye to racing. A little sad? Maybe. But proud and happy all the same."

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