Sauber to start in Australia after driver drops case


MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Dutch Formula One driver Giedo van der Garde has dropped his legal action against Sauber, allowing the team to race in this weekend's season-opening Australian Grand Prix without him.

Van de Garde released a statement on Saturday saying that while the issue was still not resolved and talks would resume next week, he had agreed to forgo his right to race this weekend.

The announcement means Sweden's Marcus Ericsson and Brazilian Felipe Nasr will drive for Sauber at Albert Park.

"With respect to the interest of motorsport, and F1 in particular, I have decided to give up my legal rights to race this weekend at the Melbourne Grand Prix," Van der Garde said.

"As I am a passionate race driver, this decision has been very difficult for me.

"However, I also wish to respect the interest of the FIA, Sauber Motorsport, as well as Nasr and Ericsson.

"My management will continue talks with Sauber early next week to find a mutually acceptable solution for the current situation that has now arisen."

A test driver for Sauber last year, Van der Garde has accused the Swiss team of reneging on a deal to let him race this season.

He won the initial case and a subsequent appeal but was not immediately reinstated, so his lawyers launched a contempt of court action against Sauber, forcing the team to comply with the order.

The case was adjourned on Friday with the judge telling both parties to try to find a solution before Saturday's official qualifying session.

"The Sauber F1 Team can confirm it has been able to agree with Mr. Giedo van der Garde that he refrains from driving in the Australian Formula One Grand Prix so it can keep its original planning," the team said in a statement.

"The Sauber F1 Team, Mr. Van der Garde and his management will continue to have constructive talks in order to find a mutually acceptable solution.

"The Sauber F1 Team is here to race in the Australian Formula One Grand Prix and that is what the team is now focusing on. In the course of next week we will be able to give more information."

(Editing by Peter Rutehrford)

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