Motorsport journalist George East chats to Caterham's Giedo van der Garde for ahead of this week's third and final 2013 F1 pre-season test at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya in Spain...
Giedo, how much of a benefit is it for you to make your debut season with Caterham, given you were their reserve driver last year?

Giedo van der Garde:
I think it's a good step, I'm very happy here. Last year I think I showed my potential, I worked hard and I'm sure they took me because of my input last year and the way I progressed. Of course it's a good thing to make my debut with Caterham.
After the Jerez test, you said the front end of the car wasn't bad; in addition to this, what are your other impressions of the car that you can take from there and Barcelona?

Giedo van der Garde:
Well, the Barcelona test wasn't too bad but the second day it was raining, so that wasn't ideal because we needed to fix an issue in the dry. I have to say that the front end seems very strong and the rear end was again a bit weak in Barcelona, so I guess we still need to do some work to make it a bit better. The team has some solutions now so let's see at this test if they've managed that, but of course we need some dry weather.
What is the plan for the final test in Barcelona?

Giedo van der Garde:
Well, first of all it needs to be dry! Then we're going to try some things with the car, so let's see if we can solve whether there's a big issue but I'm sure and confident that we will.
Cyril [Abiteboul] recently said that the team 'needs to do better than tenth' in the Constructors' Championship but it will be difficult. Since his appointment, has the atmosphere changed within the team, given there have been some quite ambitious targets in the past...?

Giedo van der Garde:
Well, don't forget that the team is still young and I think with Cyril on board now, he's a good, young fresh guy and he will put all the right people in the right places and we will make good progress this year. It won't be an easy year, but we're going to try and do our best, that's for sure. Next year because of the rule changes, there will be some bigger opportunities for the smaller teams.
Do you believe that because you've worked with Charles Pic previously at the Barwa Addax GP2 team in 2011, this will benefit the team despite the lack of F1 experience you both have?

Giedo van der Garde:
Yeah, I guess so because we know each other. I know how he is, he knows how I am and we know each other's driving style. We worked well together at Addax because during that year we got the new [style GP2] car with the new tyres and we developed it during the year, so I think it's a good thing. He's fast, he already has one year's experience and I still have to learn from him because of his year's experience, but I think we can help the team go in the right direction.
You're the 15th Dutch driver in F1 and the first since Christijan Albers in 2007; how do you feel about this?

Giedo van der Garde:
I'm very happy and proud! It's been a very long time since Holland had a F1 driver and you can now also see that the public are happier that we have one so that's good. For me, it's important to be an ambassador for motorsport in Holland because the last few years haven't been easy and with my announcement in F1, it is great for that. I hope that fathers and young kids will start karting again, which is a bit like how I started.
Who and what inspired you to get into F1?

Giedo van der Garde:
I think it was Jos Verstappen. He was in F1, and that's why a lot of young kids and their dads started racing karts. I hope to get this feeling too, as it'll be good for Holland and good for kart racing.
Since it was announced that you would drive in F1 this season, how have the Dutch media and public reacted to this?

Giedo van der Garde:
Well, they responded very well but we were also clear to the press and told them straight away that Caterham is still a young team so don't expect us to be in the top teb at every race. It's good for the sport, it's good for me to jump into a team like this because I can learn, get a lot of experience and grow with them, so the Dutch media is very happy and also know the reality of the situation. The public also have taken this very well. A lot of race fans were very happy to have a Dutch F1 driver.
Given that football is the most popular sport in Holland, do you believe that with time and any success you may have, F1 can outstrip - or at least equal - football's popularity?

Giedo van der Garde:
That's a tough question! That's very hard because I think my first year it's maybe not possible, but I'll try my best so let's see what comes out if it. In Holland though, football is very, very big.
Although the last Dutch Grand Prix was held at Zandvoort in 1985, if there were to be another, where would you like to see it held and why?

Giedo van der Garde:
At Zandvoort again, it's an amazing track! I've done quite a lot of laps there and I got pole position there in Formula 3. It has a nice layout, but for F1 it's far too small, although I think if the track were bigger and had more of a [modern] F1 layout, the drivers would love it.
Is there any chance in the future for F1 to return to Holland?

Giedo van der Garde:
Let's hope so, but it won't be easy. If they want one, they're going to have to build a completely new track in a quiet place, not in a town like Zandvoort. The future will tell us!

by George East


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