Home - The Official Formula 1 Website Skip to content

Rookie diary - Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde 26 Mar 2013

Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 24 March 2013 Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham CT03 signs autographs for the fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham CT03 crashed into the wall. His front wing is trapped beneath the car.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 16 March 2013 Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham F1, Charles Pic (FRA) Caterham F1 Team, Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India F1 and Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013 (L to R): Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR02 and Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham CT03 at the start of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013 Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham CT03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013 Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham CT03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013 Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 15 March 2013 Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham CT03 on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013

Giedo van der Garde is one of five drivers enjoying his debut Formula One season in 2013. In the latest of our series charting the personal and professional progress of this year’s F1 newcomers, the 27-year-old Dutchman reflects on his maiden Grand Prix weekend, which included enduring one of the most disjointed qualifying sessions in F1 history…

“My trainer Carlos and I had put together a plan a while ago that built up to the first race, so we did what we could to make sure I wasn’t affected by the jetlag or everything else that was going on around me in the run-up to the race. I did a few fun things in Australia before we started work on track, including meeting a lot of jellyfish in the sea when we went paddle-boarding one day, but apart from that it was all what you’d call normal for an F1 driver.

“Quali was pretty tough, but it was a good session. FP3 had gone well - we made a few changes overnight and the car felt good right from the first lap - but then the rain came in. It was so hard the start of Q1 was delayed, so I was sitting in the car just waiting to go out, but I was relaxed. There’s nothing you can do to change that sort of situation and you can only influence what you can control, so there was no point getting tense about it.

“When the session started we went out as soon as we could on full wets. I had an early problem when I hit a big puddle and damaged the front wing, but we fixed that quickly and then, for quite a bit of the session, we were looking good, maybe even pushing on Q2. Then the conditions improved enough for inters and we made the change, went out and my last lap was quick, really good. Unfortunately I had to back off for double yellows and that cost me a lot. I don’t know where I’d have finally ended up but knowing we’d done well in those conditions was good.

“I think we’re very realistic about where we are at this point of the season, so anything more would have been a bonus, even in those conditions. We made the call to go to inters at the right time and if luck had gone our way a little more then maybe it would have been a different story, but it is what it is.

“The drivers’ parade - my very first - was pretty cool. We did the 2013 driver photo before the parade and that was a great feeling, knowing I’m part of the show and surrounded by a lot of guys I’ve known and raced with for a long time. Then we set off around the track on the back of some convertible cars and it was good, seeing the stands full, feeling the energy from the crowd. But to be honest it was all over in a blur and then it was back to the garage, back to preparing and it was all over pretty quickly.

“Sitting on the grid I honestly was calm. I had done everything I could up to that point, I was in control of the car, the launch procedures and my performance engineer Yoshi and race engineer Juan had talked me through the formation lap/start process, so I was focused on getting a good start. It went well - I passed a few cars into Turn 1 and was pushing well, so I’d have to say it went to plan.

“In the race, the most difficult thing to cope with was tyre management, simple. Everything else is what all my years of racing have trained me for, but switching on the tyres and then managing the various states of degradation is key to performance, and the more laps I do the better that will be.
Everything else went pretty well. The stops were good. I had a slow puncture on my first set of primes and that meant I had to box earlier than planned, but, again, that’s out of my control so no point getting frustrated about it. I did my job as well as I could and getting the car over the line in one piece, even with the floor damage, was what I was supposed to do.

“At this stage of the season we’re mainly fighting a couple of other cars, so for us, where we are now, it’s maybe not as aggressive as it was for me last year in GP2, but one big difference is managing the blue flags. You obviously lose time backing off for the leaders, so you have to drive with one eye in front and one eye behind. Juan keeps me updated on who’s around me, but you’re almost doing two races, one ahead and one behind, so that was a little tough, but I dealt with it fine.

“It was good - maybe not the final finishing position I’d have liked, but the main thing was to get the car to the end of the race, learn as much as I could and enjoy myself. I did all of those successfully so I can say I’m pretty happy with how my first Grand Prix went. After the race I felt good physically, so the hard work I’ve put in over winter has paid off, and we also found that the car had damage to the floor, quite a bit actually, enough to cost us a lot of time and affect the car’s braking stability. So it wasn’t the easiest start to my F1 career, but pretty good all the same.

“We know points are a long way ahead of us now, and it was my first ever F1 race, so finishing was the goal. I think I did okay - the team were pleased, everyone who is around me was pleased and I got a lot of great messages from around the world after the race, so I think I achieved what I set out to do as a basic target in my first race.

“I think we can always keep improving, little by little, right across the team. The car is at a performance level now that is going to be improved, so that’s encouraging, and for me every lap is helping me understand how to get the most out of the tyres, how to use the full performance envelope in every sector, and how to keep improving my feedback for the engineers. It’s all part of being a rookie - you keep learning, and our team is still very young, so we keep moving forward together.”

For tickets and travel to 2013 FORMULA 1 races, click here.
For FORMULA 1 and F1 team merchandise, click here.