Sauber chief Monisha Kaltenborn was told earlier this week that she will be in contempt of court if she fails to allow Giedo van der Garde to drive in Melbourne.
But Friday's practice sessions at Albert Park came and went without Van der Garde taking to the track, while Sauber opted to use Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr.
In farcical scenes, Van der Garde appeared in the Sauber garage wearing his race overalls as he waited for news.
A test driver for Sauber last year, Van der Garde has accused the Swiss team of reneging on a deal to let him race this season after they signed up Ericsson and Nasr who bring Â£20m in sponsorship money between them, most of which has been paid up front and without which the team could go bust.
The 29-year-old Dutchman won the initial case and a subsequent appeal, but his lawyers then launched a contempt of court action against Sauber, forcing the team to comply with the order.