New Caterham reserve driver Giedo van der Garde has revealed that he has some way to go before he can feel comfortable behind the wheel of the CT01 after completing his first run for the team at the Jerez group test.
The Dutch GP2 Series graduate took over behind the wheel after regular Caterham racer Heikki Kovalainen had completed the first two days of running with the new car, and racked up 74 laps with a best time of 1min 23.324secs.
That left van der Garde at the foot of the times, but outright pace wasn't the name of the exercise for the long-time F1 hopeful, who was getting his first track action since the GP2 Series finale in Monza last season.
“I enjoyed myself today," he confirmed, "The team has been great with me – the engineers and the mechanics have all been working really hard to help me acclimatise, so thanks to them. Now I'm looking forward to my next run.”
van der Garde, a former F3 Euroseries team-mate to both Sebastian Vettel and Paul di Resta, admitted that there had been more of a step than he had expected between the GP2 machinery he has campaigned for the past three seasons and Caterham's F1 car, despite having previously tested for the Spyker team and been a part of both the McLaren and Renault development squads.
"I'm happy because I put in a lot of time in the car, but that was the first time I've been on track since Monza last year, so I had to spend a bit of time this morning getting back into the groove," he accepted, "However, that came pretty quickly and then we got down to work.
"I'm very pleased because, by the end of the day, I was starting to get used to all the new things about F1 – there's a lot to learn, but I know what I need to focus on so, next time I'm in the car, I'll definitely be able to get on the pace more quickly.
“There are a couple of real areas that I know I can work on – the first being the brakes. I'm used to a stiffer pedal on the GP2 car so I had to adapt my style a bit to get used to the F1 car, but that came quite early.
"The other area is getting the most out of the new tyres. The quickest lap time is pretty much straight out of the box and that means being on it as soon as you leave the pits. We used both DRS and KERS today and I felt pretty comfortable with both. DRS started to come naturally by the end of the day and, with KERS, there's more to come.