First of all, who is Van Der Garde? And why is everyone fighting over him? It appears that Van Der Garde’s claim to fame is that he has won a race in F3 Euroseries. And his earlier attempts at procurring a super-licence this week were thwarted by bad weather (Apparently he is a bit touchy about driving when it is windy).
After being announced as Super Aguiri test driver and having had his first test at Valencia only yesterday, he was today announced as a Spyker test driver – much to Super Aguiri’s chagrin. It must be remembered that Spyker and SA aren’t already on the best of terms really what with the customer car row, and now SA is not thrilled (understandably) about having their third driver nicked in addition.
Team-hopping and dubious contracts are not new to F1, and there have been more high profile instances than SA and Spyker fighting over Garde for test driver. There was Jenson Button who felt something as trivial as a contract with Honda shouldn’t prevent him from racing for Williams. Then there was Adrian Newey who thought he could design cars for Jaguar while contracted to McLaren while Ron Dennis thought he couldn’t.
Of course, one mustn’t forget Michael Schumacher who nonchalantly qualified seventh in his first attempt with a F1 car with no prior testing experience. Jordan thought they had him, Benneton thought they did as well, and in all the ensuing confusion the night before race weekend, Bernie Ecclestone told a distraught Michael to “shut up and goto bed” and arranged for him to drive for Benneton. Well, 7 world championships later, Michael is legend, and Eddie Jordan is still kicking himself for letting Michael walk around the paddock at large without an iron-clad contract hung around his neck.
Ferrari has meanwhile clarified that Nigel Stepney remains under contract to Ferrari and his advertisement for a new job through Autosport might have been a shade premature. And oh yes, Garde – in keeping with the current trend – announced that he was not the next Schumacher just in case anyone was wondering.