Caterham goes Dutch (and American) for young driver test
25 October 2012
Caterham became the sixth and final team to confirm its line-up for next month's young driver test at Yas Marina, naming 2012 reserve Giedo van der Garde and Alexander Rossi for the three days.
Dutchman van der Garde will be in the car for days one and two of the test, on 6-7 November, with 21-year old Driver Development Programme member Rossi taking over for day three.
“We are delighted to be running both Giedo, our reserve driver, and Alexander, our test driver, at the Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test,” team CEO Cyril Abiteboul announced, “With all the drivers we work with, we want to make sure they can see that we can help guide them along a clear path to the top of the motorsport industry.
“On top of the FP1 sessions both drivers have already run for us, giving both Giedo and Alexander the chance to also test with us in Abu Dhabi is a good example of our ongoing commitment to helping develop talented drivers achieve their long-term goals.
“Giedo has had a very strong year with our GP2 team Caterham Racing, winning twice, in Spain and at the season finale in Singapore, and recording two podium finishes at the showpiece event in Monaco. Meanwhile, Alexander has had a decent season with Arden Caterham in [World Series by] Renault, one of his highlights also coming in Monaco where he finished fifth. Picking Giedo and Alexander for the Abu Dhabi test is a good reward for their hard work in 2012, but it also gives us two drivers who know the team, understand how to get what's needed from the cars and are familiar with the circuit – the best of all worlds for us in what will be an important test.”
van der Garde openly admitted that returning to GP2 for a fourth season was a decision made with one eye on being able to get F1 outings with Caterham and, while he won't say as much, will undoubtedly view the Abu Dhabi test as a chance to showcase his abilities ahead of 2013.
“By the time we get to the Young Driver Test, I will have completed several FP1 sessions with the team and it will be good to be able to extend that more with two full days in the car,” the 27-year old remarked, “I'm sure it will be a very busy couple of days, but I want to make sure I continue to learn as much as possible and do what I can to help the team have a useful few days testing before the last two races of the season.
“I believe I have benefited enormously from the work I have been doing with Caterham this year, in both GP2 and with the F1 team, and the chance to drive in Abu Dhabi is another positive step in the right direction for my career as a professional racing driver.”
Rossi, meanwhile, is the first member of the AirAsia Caterham Driver Development Programme - which also includes British youngster Matt Parry and a handful of Malaysian kart racers – to run with the F1 team and will look to build on previous outings in the green-and-gold colours.
“I want to thank Caterham for the opportunity once again to take part in the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi,” he admitted, “I've had a good year with the team as test driver and, on top of the FP1 I did in Spain, this is another chance to add more F1 experience at a track I know well, having raced there several times in the past.
“Every time I have worked with the F1 team since I joined the Driver Development Programme in 2010, I have had all the support I need to do the best job I can when I am in the car and the team's commitment to helping me develop, in all areas of my racing career, is a very positive sign that they believe in me and want to help me reach the very top of my sport.
“For the Abu Dhabi test, I've already had several conversations with the engineers about what is planned and it's definitely going to be busy, but I was comfortable in the CT01 earlier this year, and very prepared mentally and physically, so now I'm just looking forward to getting in the car!”
Caterham will join Red Bull, Toro Rosso, McLaren, Sauber and Lotus at Yas Marina for the three-day test that follows next weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The session should be an interesting shoot-out between some of the best young talent on the ladder beneath F1, although McLaren will also run regular test drivers Gary Paffett and Oliver Turvey as it seeks to close the gap in the 2012 constructors' championship.