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Sports

Dutch driver wins legal bid to race Australian Grand Prix

F1 driver Giedo Van der Garde won his legal bid to drive for Sauber on Thursday, after the Swiss team lost its appeal against a court order to let him race. The Dutchman said Sauber broke their promise.

Sauber has lost its appeal against a court verdict supporting Dutch driver Giedo Van der Garde's legal bid to drive for the Switerland-based Formula One team.

The Court of Appeal in Melbourne ruled in favor of the driver, forcing Sauber to pay the driver's legal costs and throwing the Swiss team's preperations for this weekend's season-opening race into confusion.

"I'm hopeful of racing," said Van der Garde outside court on Thursday. "I'm fit, I'm ready (so) of course I want to race. It's my life."

The Dutch driver had claimed he was guaranteed a seat for the 2015 season, but that Sauber backtracked on the deal and instead handed berths to Sweden's Marcus Ericsson and rookie Brazilian Felipe Nasr, who are heavily sponsored.

Van der Garde originally took his case to a Swiss arbitration tribunal, which ordered Sauber to keep him on the team. Victoria Supreme Court judge Clyde Croft then backed that ruling, enforcing it in Australia. Croft said his decision was made purely on points of law.

Sauber is one of Formula One's smallest setups. Last year the team did not manage a single point in the constructors' championship.

The 2015 season will begin with the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday. Fernando Alonso from McLaren will have to sit out the race, after crashing in testing last month.

al/ph (AFP, AP)