Having lost out on the opportunity to buy a race seat with the HRT F1 outfit for the 2012 season, GP2 racer Giedo van der Garde has instead been snaffled up as the official reserve driver by the Catergam F1 Team, it has been announced today.
In an official media release, the team confirmed that van der Garde will take part in “a number of FP1 sessions” over the course of the season in the team’s new CT01 challenger.
The Dutch driver has, for some time, been on the fringes of Formula 1. In 2003, he was placed on Renault’s F1 Driver Development programme, and in 2006 he was transferred across to McLaren’s ‘Young Drivers’ Programme.
In 2007, he was signed on as Super Aguri’s test and reserve driver, but rival outfit Spyker successfully disputed the contract – having argued to the Contract Recognition Board that it already held a valid contract with him – and took him into its reserve line-up instead.
In the lead-up to the 2001 season, he was a contender for the race seat at Virgin Racing that eventually fell Jérôme d’Ambrosio’s way, and more recently he considered himself a candidate for the seat at HRT that went to Narain Karthikeyan.
His obvious speed notwithstanding, van der Garde is an attractive prospect to many midfield teams on account of the millions in backing he brings with him from Dutch clothing house McGregor, which is run by his father-in-law.
Van der Garde will become the first Dutch driver to be part of the Formula 1 landscape since Christijan Albers drove for Spyker in 2007.
“Being the only Dutch driver now is very good for the sport in Holland, as the interest was perhaps on the decline since the Verstappen years,” he is quoted as saying in Caterham’s media release today.
“I’m very happy to become a part of the Caterham F1 Team family today and I’m very excited about the next step in my career within Formula 1. The team is fresh, with some fantastic people here. Tony Fernandes is extremely ambitious and he has brought in a lot of very good people in to help grow this team for future success. I’m looking forward to learning and moving forward with the team in and out of the car.”