- Joined Sauber in 2014
- Previously drove for Caterham
- First race with Caterham: 2013 Australian Grand Prix
Normally I'll get to the race on a Wednesday. One or two tracks on a Thursday morning, it depends. Spa and Hockenheim are only three hours' drive, so maybe I'll arrive Thursday the morning. But the rest of the other circuits are more or less Wednesday. Wednesday afternoon you fly somewhere at midday from Amsterdam to wherever, and then at the beginning of the evening you arrive at the hotel.
Mainly you have your programme for Thursday. You have a lot of briefings with the engineers, a team briefing, then you have your briefing with the marketing and PR people. There's the track walk in the morning, and then the afternoon is more or less quiet and it's up to me what I want to do. When I am in the car first thing on Friday morning then I have a bit more work: you want to prepare yourself with the on-board camera to see a bit from the year before, you go through some data or whatever you have to do. You check your seat, your pedals, make sure everything is correct, and then more or less the day is over.
When I am in the car, of course I arrive more or less early. We always have a briefing around 9 o'clock, and we jump in at quarter to ten. So we start to arrive around 8.15, 8.30 to the track. We have breakfast here; we have good chefs here so they make perfect breakfasts. And then you have your briefing at 9 o'clock. After that you sit down with your engineer – it depends which car you are in, of course. You see the programme, what they want to achieve from you, what they want you to do with testing, what you have to do at testing. You jump in at quarter to ten, then you have your whole session of one and a half hours, doing more or less 18 to 20 laps. After that is the debrief, 15 minutes after the session. You tell the team what is good, what is wrong, what improved, what didn't improve. For around 30 minutes you are with your engineer. Then there's some media, and that is it then for me.
On a Friday when I'm not running I listen to all the comms from the cars. In the garage we have a special system so we hear everything: all the contact between the engineers, between the pit crew. It is quite interesting what they talk about, what switches they have to tell to the drivers, stuff like that. I always have the radio on; it is always interesting to see what happens. I try to help them as much as possible. For example, on Saturday at Silverstone, it was wet to start with and it started to get dry and I told them on the pit to make sure you put slicks on. They said “we don't know yet”. “For sure, put slicks on”. I try to put my effort in where I can and to help the team going forward. I think I am technically quite strong, and I think it is good to have another opinion from another driver, and as much help for the team as possible.
Saturday, of course everything is one hour later. You arrive a bit later to the track, you have your debrief again and the engineering meeting. After the session is another briefing with the engineers, and then it's qualifying. After the qualifying you do the debrief, and then later on there's the strategy meeting for Sunday. You have a think about it: 'what should I do to give my input', if I agree or don't agree. The more things you put on the table the better it is. Saturday is quite an easy day. On Saturday, when everything is done around 5 o'clock or 5.30 I like to go on the track and run a few laps, keep myself fit. As a reserve driver, you have to stay fit and ready if something happens. When I'm done running I get changed, have a shower here, sit down with the team and have some dinner.
Sundays are different as a reserve driver. I don't really fancy going on the grid; for me there is nothing to do. I keep my radio on – you need to be in contact, know that they are saying, what they are doing, what they speak about. That is it. I prefer to stay here in the garage to see what the guys are doing and leave them alone, they have to focus on the race. After the race I stay and do the de-brief to hear what the drivers have been saying, to see what went wrong. It is always interesting. I try to give my opinion as well. Once that is over I say goodbye and I am off home.
Giedo van der Garde was speaking to Kate Walker