MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Formula One team Sauber have lost their appeal to block Dutch driver Giedo van der Garde's bid to force the Swiss outfit to let him drive for them this season.
Sauber appealed a ruling by the Supreme Court of Victoria state which on Wednesday upheld a Swiss arbitration tribunal's decision that had ordered the team to refrain from taking action to deprive van der Garde from racing for them.
He had charged Sauber with reneging on a deal to give him a race seat after they signed Sweden's Marcus Ericsson and Brazilian Felipe Nasr as their two race-day drivers.
The court dismissed Sauber's appeal on Thursday and ordered the team to pay his legal costs, three days before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
After Wednesday's initial ruling, van der Garde had said he was looking forward to going back to the team and driving for them this weekend at Albert Park.
"I still have a very good relation with the team," he told reporters.
Lawyers for Sauber had argued handing him a seat so late before the race was an unacceptable safety risk.
The team also argued that he had no F1 "super-licence" which would bar him from driving.
Formula One racing director Charlie Whiting told reporters that van der Garde could not race without a super-licence but, a day before Friday practice, would not rule out his ability to get one.
"All I'm saying is that there are procedures that are dealt with through the team, through the ASN (national sporting authority) of the driver concerned and the FIA in Geneva," Whiting said.