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Sauber legal dispute on hold for Australian Grand Prix

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The legal dispute between the Sauber Formula One team and ex-driver Giedo van der Garde is on hold for the Australian Grand Prix weekend, allowing the team to use its appointed drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr for qualifying and the race.

There have been several hearings in the local Supreme Court of the state of Victoria this week where van der Garde has pressed his claims to be used as a race driver this season, in adherence with an agreed contract with Sauber.

The court was told at a hearing on Saturday morning that overnight talks had resulted in the Dutch driver setting aside his claims for this weekend.

Sauber said it had agreed with van der Garde “that he refrains from driving in the Australian Formula One Grand Prix so it can keep its original planning.”

Talks on resolving the dispute would resume next week.

Van der Garde said he would give up “my legal right to race this weekend” in the “interest of motorsport, and F1 in particular.”

“As I am a passionate race driver this decision has been very difficult for me,” he said. “However, I also wish to respect the interest of the FIA (the sport’s governing body), 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.”

A Swiss tribunal and the local Australian court had both upheld van der Garde’s rights to be used as a driver this season. Sauber had pulled out of the agreement it had with him in November and instead appointed Ericsson and Nasr, who both bring much-needed sponsorship backing for the financially troubled team.

The van der Garde dispute, as well as other off-track troubles, had put pressure on Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn.

Kaltenborn succeeded team founder Peter Sauber as team principal at the start of 2013, becoming the sport’s first female team boss. Since taking over, she has been forced to deal with the dispute with van der Garde and a dire 2014 season in which the team failed to score a single point and battled major financial problems.

While she refused to directly address the van der Garde matter at a pre-race press conference on Friday, she stood by the team’s decision-making process and her own position.

“We have a very clear view of what we did. We thought about it very well. The outcome is different, and that is all I can say about that.”

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