Dutch racer Giedo van der Garde was on many pundits’ lips during the off-season as a driver likely to make his Formula 1 debut in 2012. Young and quick, he comes with ample backing from a host of companies in his homeland, including clothing giant McGregor, and there’s little doubt that he would be an attractive prospect to several teams on the grid.
Having recently signed to join Caterham’s line-up as their official reserve driver, Giedo sat down and talked to RichardsF1.com in the Albert Park paddock…
Your name featured regularly as someone who was a contender for a seat on this year’s Formula 1 grid. Can you talk us through this negotiation process and how you came to join Caterham?
My manager and I went to the Brazilian Grand Prix, and we had a very productive meeting with Tony Fernandes [Team Principal] and Riad Asmat [CEO]. From that, we were able to have more contact and negotiate this deal.
There was the possibility to race, but at the end of the day, I am here as the reserve driver. The team is still young and making progress, so I hope to grow with them. I think moving here was the right choice for me.
When will you have opportunities to drive the CT01 during the Grand Prix weekends?
I won’t be driving this weekend, but there are arrangement for the future. At this stage the team wants me to focus on GP2 – I will be driving for the Caterham GP2 team this year – and the first race will be next week in Malaysia.
From that point, we can then make some decisions as to when I’ll be driving in the car. I will be doing between six and eight free practice sessions this year.
We’re seeing with the current economic climate that it’s almost impossible to crack into Formula 1 without the commercial support of a few backers. Equally, there have been few Dutch drivers to have made the cut, with the last being Christijan Albers in 2005-6. How important has the support from your backers been in getting you towards Formula 1?
Of course, for any driver, it’s very hard to join Formula 1. But I’m lucky that I have some people around me, some good guys and sponsors, who have been very loyal over the last few years.
The goal has always been Formula 1. My appointment is a major step in the right direction, but still it would be wonderful for Holland to have a driver racing in Formula 1. Let’s hope this will come through next year.
Who were your motorsport idols when you were growing up and rising through the ranks?
Of course, I always used to watch Ayrton Senna when I was younger. He was a great driver. After that, it was Michael Schumacher.
Effectively, you’re on Caterham’s shortlist with [fellow test driver] Alexander Rossi for a promotion to Formula 1. What goals are you setting yourself to be in the best possible position to make the jump into a full-time race seat?
The GP2 team is still young and we’ve had some very successful mileage in pre-season testing so far. The team has had great reliability and we’ve been able to make mega progress to improve the car.
We’re still struggling with tyre degradation and we’ll need to see how it all pans out. I hope to qualify inside the top-three and perhaps finish on the podium, but the challenge will be in maintaining our race pace. I’m hoping I can help the team build into a top team as quickly as possible.
We offer our sincerest thanks to Caterham’s press team for making this interview possible. To visit Caterham’s website, please click on the banner below:
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