Rookie diary - Caterhams Giedo van der Garde 06 Mar 2013
Giedo van der Garde is one of five drivers who will make their Formula One race debut at the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix on March 17. As part of a new series charting the personal as well as professional progress of this years F1 newcomers, the 27-year-old Dutchman describes how he celebrated securing his seat at Caterham and why he cant wait for the season to begin
My life, since being announced as a Caterham race driver, has been really good. Obviously it has been very busy - the announcement was made very close to the first pre-season test so everything has sort of been squeezed into the last couple of weeks. But I wouldnt change it, it has been great!
The main thing for me is that my dream is coming true. I told my Dad when I was very young that I was going to be an F1 driver and now its happening. I never stopped working for it, never stopped believing it would happen, and with the help and support of a lot of very good people, Im where I want to be.
The first thing I did when I found out I had the drive was to have a small sip of champagne with my girlfriend. My trainer, Carlos, has had me on a pretty tough programme over the winter, but you only get to celebrate news like that very rarely in life so I wanted to share it with my girlfriend. It was only a small sip though
Do I feel under pressure? No. Not from the team as were realistic about what we can do this year. The pressure that does exist is from myself and my trainer. We are preparing as well as possible for the year ahead, but thats good pressure, the sort that motivates you and pushes you to perform. But pressure on track? No. I know what to do - the team have helped me prepare as well as possible and Im ready for whats ahead.
Ive spent as much time as possible at the factory, bearing in mind when the announcement was made. Having driven for Caterham in GP2 last year Ive already spent a lot of time with the team, so I know the guys and know my way around the factory at Leafield.
Sure, its not ideal to have been announced as late as I was, but, as I said, I was with the team in 2012, both in F1 and GP2, so nothings really new to me. That has made it easy just to go to work.
I also already knew my team mate - Charles Pic - very well. We were team mates with Addax in GP2 in 2011 and he already has a year of F1 on his CV, so I can - and I am - definitely learning from him. Our relationship is great.
Pre-season testing was pretty good. The weather could have been better, but we needed some time to try out the wet tyres and set-ups, and were on target for what we wanted to achieve in the tests, so all good.
"Now, Im just looking forward to Melbourne. Itll be my first Grand Prix and I cant wait to get going. After that, Im looking forward to the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. Thats where most Dutch fans will be - its one of the greatest circuits on the planet and its near home.
This season, the most satisfaction would come from scoring Caterhams first point in Formula One, but we know thats a big ask and needs a crazy race to help us. So for me, its about learning in the first half of the season, then using what Ive taken in to progress, fight where I can, and do the best job possible.
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