22 December 2010
van der Garde eyes test role and more GP2
Giedo van der Garde reveals that he is considering another crack at GP2, alongside a possible F1 testing position, for 2011.
Giedo van der Garde's flirtation with F1 continues despite again missing out on a possible race seat, with the Dutchman insisting that he will not give up on his goal of making it to the top flight.
van der Garde, who shone on occasion in this year's GP2 Series, had been listed among the potential candidates for a seat at Marussia Virgin Racing, but ultimately lost out when the British squad plumped for Benelux rival Jerome d'Ambrosio, after the Belgian performed strongly in a handful of Friday free practice and post-season test outings.
The former McLaren development scheme driver, who partnered Sauber rookie Sergio Perez at Barwa Addax in GP2, has come close to F1 roles in the past, having been linked to both Super Aguri and Spyker in 2007, leading to submissions to the Contracts Recognition Board, but ultimately failed to get beyond the occasional test after the FIA decided against granting him a superlicence. That led to campaigns in both the World Series by Renault - which he won in 2008 - and GP2, winning races in 2009, whilst useful sponsorship connections continued to see him listed as an F1 candidate.
Having missed out on the second seat at Virgin, however, van der Garde insists that he will have to switch to 'Plan B' in search of top flight involvement. Luiz Razia was confirmed as Virgin's 2011 test driver, closing another possible opportunity for the Dutchman, but similar roles remain vacant elsewhere and it is thought likely that he will try to combine one of these with a third year in GP2.
"We were not informed in advance [of d'Ambrosio's confirmation]," he told the Dutch media, "It is unfortunate, but what you do know in advance is how difficult it is to get an F1 seat. Despite that, it remains my goal, even if it is a tough business. You have to ignore the setbacks and keep going."
"We had a realistic opportunity with Virgin," manager Jan Paul ten Hoopen insisted, "but we are still talking with two other teams, including Force India. However, you can never rely on anything in F1 [because] it's a big casino."
van der Garde, who could also wind up at Williams thanks to common links to Dutch fashion brand McGregor, says that he will take inspiration from another recent F1 graduate, Pastor Maldonado, in his quest to step up. Ironically, Maldonado has joined Williams to race alongside Rubens Barrichello for 2011, but spent four seasons in the feeder series before making his breakthrough.
"The [Virgin] news is so fresh, so I have to sit down with my management to see what is best for my career," van der Garde admitted, "However, 'Plan B' is to be GP2 champion, as we have seen what it did for Pastor Maldonado...."
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