Giedo van der Garde made his debut last weekend in Melbourne, and while he didn’t have the best of weekends, he still managed to get some much needed race experience under his belt.
A week after our exclusive chat with him in the Melbourne paddock, Giedo once again talks to RichardsF1.com about his debut race, rivalries between the rookies as well as his hopes for rain this weekend.
Obviously a difficult weekend for you in Australia, how did you find your first full race weekend in Formula 1?
I think it was pretty good! A got a lot of experience. [The race] wasn’t easy as Chilton hit my rear end at the start and the diffuser was broken badly. So I lost a lot of downforce throughout the whole race and tyre degradation was worse. We even got a puncture during the race so it wasn’t the best race to start with, but we finished it, got a lot of experience, got used to the blue flags and now make some good steps.
Was your main goal to finish your first race?
I think if Chilton wouldn’t have hit me I would’ve been in front of him in the race. But it’s like this, now it’s a new race weekend and different circumstances. It’s the home grand prix for the team so we’ll see what we can do here.
How have you found the attention for the team’s home race? Given you don’t have your own personal home grand prix is this weekend a little more special for you?
It’s very busy! Yesterday we had all the events; it was flat out from 7 in the morning till 10 in the evening. Tonight we have to meet the king and the queen as well as the Prime Minister, so it’s something cool about it and it’s busy! It’s very good for the team have their own home race and I’m very proud to be apart of it. I’m very much looking forward to going to Spa as it’s basically a home race for me.
You mentioned about degradation before, did it surprise you as to how much the tyres deteriorated throughout the race last weekend?
We expected worse to be honest. I was quite happy with the degradation. Of course my car was a bit worse than the other car because of the problems with the rear end, but I think they seem to work better at higher temperatures. Testing was quite bad as it wasn’t good to handle the tyres for a very long time. Australia was not bad, I was quite pleased, but [Sepang] is a different type of track again. It’s very hot and we have never run the tyres in these conditions so this will be a first time for us. Other than that let’s see how they will handle here.
Did you come over early to Malaysia to try and acclimatize to the race?
Yeah you try and come as soon as possible. We flew here Sunday night straight here and you try and train as much as possible outside to get used to the temperature and humidity. I have to say I quite like the temperature and humidity. It’s tough in the car but I think I’m quite fit and mentally strong so I’m ready to get started!
So it’s a nice challenge across the weekend?
Of course! It’s always a challenge but this one is particularly hard, together with Singapore but it’s good to be here.
You mentioned the car felt good in the rain and with a high likelihood of a wet race do you feel you can push forward and possibly sneak through for a point?
No, something bad must happen in front or in the middle of the field to be honest. But I have to say we had a decent pace in the rain with rain tyres as well as intermediates. I think in qualifying we could’ve beaten bot the Marussia’s, and the race of course is a different story. Here you never know, last year was a crazy race and Alonso had the best car in the race. Perez did very well in the race. So as a driver you can give something extra in these circumstances so I hope to have them this year.
You did quite well here in 2013 in GP2, how much can you take the knowledge of the track from GP2 across into F1?
It’s a different story with a Formula 1 car. The way you are driving, the way you are trying to get the tyres to work. I look forward to starting tomorrow and seeing where we are and how the car feels.
How did the Dutch press react to your first Grand Prix?
We told them the story we had the issue, so they understood that. I have to say the Dutch press has been really really positive at the moment. It’s good for racing in Holland, and I hope that the young kids go and start go-karting again and that the sport is lifting. For a few years it has been quite tough in Holland, but with me now in Formula 1 it’s growing and there has been a lot of interest, and I’m quite happy about that.
What’s the goal for the remainder of the year once the aero updates come in Barcelona? Is it to push for a point or perhaps to try and get out of Q1 at least once?
Let’s see first how the update feels and how good it is. I am hearing very positive reactions from back in the factory, and I have to say I am really looking forward to it because we need it. But we can see in Barcelona where we are. Of course when we put that on, a lot of others teams do as well to fix the mechanical balance and to fine tune it again. So it will take us a couple of races to fine tune everything. Let’s first do these three races, we know where we are and we know we have to fight with Marussia and hopefully in Barcelona we can make a big step.
It must be a big buzz to now be one of only 22 Formula 1 drivers in the world; do you think much about that?
Now it’s part of my life and of course you have been leading to this moment. I enjoyed myself on the grid in Melbourne where I got out of the car and I had worked half my life to be in that moment on the grid. But once you put the helmet on and the cars are close it’s back to business.
Is there a big rivalry between you and the four other rookies on the grid this year?
No, we know everybody is in a different team and that everybody has a different target so I think there isn’t really a rivalry. Probably the only real rivalry is between Chilton and Bianchi as they are both rookies in the same team.
We offer our sincerest thanks to the Caterham F1 Team for their assistance in making this interview possible. Images via Author and Corbis Images. Author images are © RichardsF1.com