Just days out from the unveiling of its 2013 Grand Prix car, the Caterham F1 team has confirmed one of the off-season’s worst-kept secrets by finally announcing that its reserve driver, Giedo van der Garde, will make his Formula 1 race debut with the team at next month’s Australian Grand Prix.
Van der Garde joined the team last year as the outfit’s official reserve driver, making six Friday practice session outings while also dovetailing this with a full-time drive in Caterham’s GP2 Series team, where he scored two wins and six podium finishes.
“[Giedo] has been part of our family since early 2012 when he joined our GP2 team and was appointed as Reserve Driver for the F1 team. He acquitted himself extremely well in both his GP2 season and his six FP1 sessions, progressively improving his outright pace, technical feedback and his relationship with his engineers and mechanics, giving us the clear justification for promoting him to F1,” Caterham team principal Cyril Abiteboul said.
“This is the next natural step for Giedo with our team. We continue to grow as a team and we are committed to giving young talent across the motorsport industry the chance to grow with us and this is Giedo’s opportunity to show he deserves his place at the very highest level of global motorsport.
“He and Charles have been team-mates before so he is an excellent choice to partner Charles in what is going to be another very interesting season, and we are all looking forward to seeing Giedo continue to progress as he takes on the ultimate challenge of F1.”
“I know I am ready to take the step up to F1 and all the work I have done throughout my career, and particularly in the last year with this team, has brought me to my ultimate goal,” van der Garde added.
“Throughout 2012 I was able to fully integrate myself into the team, both through the FP1 sessions I ran at a number of tracks that were then new to me, and as Reserve Driver, fully embedded with the team throughout the season.
“Now I can continue to learn at the highest level of motorsport and show that I am ready for F1. I cannot wait to start.”
His passage to the frontline seat is no doubt assisted by the hefty sponsorship support he enjoys from Dutch clothing firm McGregor, which just so happens to be headed by van der Garde’s father-in-law.
Van der Garde’s appointment marks a wholesale driver line-up change for the Leafield-based team, which has now officially dispensed with the services of its 2012 drivers, Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov.
The team made no mention of either of its outgoing drivers in its announcement.
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