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Giedo van der Garde

Exclusive: Van der Garde picks up special Sauber souvenir after bizarre 2015 F1 spell

In the run-up to Max Verstappen's Grand Prix debut weekend, there was another Dutch driver who stole the headlines. His name? Giedo van der Garde.

Van der Garde Sauber
To news overview © XPBimages

If you cast your mind back to the 2015 Australian Grand Prix, there was a lot of attention on a certain Dutchman in Formula 1.

Not the 17 year-old Max Verstappen fresh out of Formula 3, it was another by the name of Giedo Van der Garde. Having already raced in F1 for Caterham in 2012 and 2013, he pivoted to Sauber in a reserve role which led to the scandal involving driver contracts.

He insisted that he signed a contract to race with the team, except there was one problem: so did Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson, and reportedly so did Adrian Sutil.

This led to a lot of confused faces in the paddock as Nasr and Ericsson turned up, who both were entered into the weekend by the team, and so did Van der Garde expecting to drive the car in FP1.

The Dutchman took successful legal action against Sauber in the Australian Courts and arrived in the paddock, put on Ericsson's overalls, then entered the team's pit box minutes before practice was due to start.

The team decided to miss the first session as they sorted out the crises, eventually reaching an agreement with Van der Garde which enabled Nasr and Ericsson to take part in FP2.

RacingNews365 spoke at length with Van der Garde about that particular Sauber year. Those overalls, who did they actually go home with?

"I'm still getting it from Sauber," Van der Garde points out with a smile.

"It's waiting for me and I'm also going to pick it up at the factory. The biggest culprit was team boss Monisha Kaltenborn, but all those guys who are still there now are good friends of mine."

I normally have nothing to do with it, but there is a story behind this anyway

- Giedo van der Garde

"We agreed that I go to the factory, that I get another tour and then we have lunch together. That suit... All those helmets and suits from the past don't do much for me, but of course there's a unique story behind this."

Why did Van der Garde eventually abandon his attempts to get into that car? "That working relationship was so disturbed and it's not nice when you discover at 340kph that something is not quite right. And then you get bought off and all of a sudden you're sitting at home."

Now he can look back on it with a smile, but that was different in the months after it became clear that he was not on the F1 grid. "I did spend a year off the map," Van der Garde admits. "I really saw the black hole and it took about three quarters of a year to get out of that."

With that, he got help from the people around him and especially his father-in-law: "I was fully celebrating and going crazy. I was more running away from my problems. I took in a mental coach, but I also went to work in my father-in-law's company.

"He indicated 'I only do this with my daughters, but for you I'll make an exception. You will be my right hand and as such you will be involved in everything'. That was a great life lesson, and then I found out that the business world does suit and attract me as well."

He didn't disappear into the business world entirely, as he successfully returned to race in the World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series. Van der Garde went on to win the LMP2 Pro-Am class with Racing Team Netherlands in 2021.

This year he announced that he would retire from racing for good, citing that his life now "revolves around my family and the love of my life" alongside his ongoing career as an F1 pundit.

"A little sad? Maybe. But proud and happy all the same," he said in a social media statement.

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