Crash.Net F1 News
Abu Dhabi test 'important' for vd Garde future
2 November 2012
Giedo van der Garde could make big strides in his quest to finally land a full-time role in F1 next season by performing well at next week's 'young driver' test in Abu Dhabi.
That is the view of the Dutchman's manager, who has been trying for several years to land van der Garde a full-time ride. However, despite flirtations with the likes of Williams, Virgin and Caterham, the former World Series by Renault champion remains firmly in a reserve role. His latest outing with the Caterham team left no-one any the wiser regarding his potential, as an engine problem in FP1 at Yas Marina restricted van der Garde to just three installation laps, but Jan Paul ten Hoppen is confident that he will get more productive running on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"They will be important days," he told ad.nl of the race to secure a seat for 2013, "We would both like [to see van der Garde at Caterham] and are in discussion. It is a nice option, but there are more teams and, before the end of the year, we definitely hope to have clarity."
van der Garde has already made no secret of his desire to remain with Caterham - which is likely to have one definite vacancy for 2013 amid reports that Vitaly Petrov is not returning - next season, and will line up alongside the team's driver development protégé Alex Rossi in the three-day test at Yas Marina.
"I have another option, but Caterham is the best one," he told ad.nl after the Japanese GP, where he made the first of three straight FP1 appearances prior to his run in Abu Dhabi, "We are busy with [talks] and, hopefully, we can sort it out quickly and then start preparing for next year."
The Dutch media is currently rumouring a partnership of van der Garde and Charles Pic at Caterham next season, speculation that would leave Heikki Kovalainen out of a ride, but without opposition from Pic should he look at joining Sauber in 2013. The Finn has been linked to potential openings at McLaren and Ferrari as well as Sauber over the past few weeks, and insists that he will not stoop to becoming a 'pay driver' in order to secure his future at Leafield, despite admitting that he is happy at Caterham.
van der Garde, meanwhile, is hoping that his previous experience of the Yas Marina circuit will stand him in good stead for the forthcoming test.
“Abu Dhabi's the first track I'll be driving on at this stage of the season that I've raced on before," he said ahead of his frustrating practice outing, "With the obvious limits we work under in FP1, that's a big advantage as it means I'm not having to learn my way around on my first couple of laps and, as we're usually doing somewhere between 20 to 25 laps in first practice, it means I can help the team even more right from the first run.
“I have to say I'm really enjoying the work I'm doing with the team and it'll be even better in Abu Dhabi. In India, my times were closer to my team-mate than in any other session I've done and I think I'm really developing a good relationship with the engineers and the whole team. It's obviously a bit tricky to really show what you can do when you have just one set of tyres and not much more than about 25 laps, but these sessions aren't about showing how quick I can go, they're about working to the programme set by the team and continuing to learn as much as I can about the step up from GP2 to F1.
"After the Abu Dhabi race, I'll be staying on for the young driver test, and that'll be another really good step forward in my development – two full days in the car on a track I've already driven on, and with a group of people who I've worked closely with for the last couple of months will give me a great chance to help the team get as much as they can from the test, and give me the opportunity to keep developing without some of the constraints of a race weekend.”
van der Garde has strong ties to Dutch fashion brand McGregor, which backed his GP2 campaign with Caterham's offshoot in the feeder series, and believes that he had accumulated enough experience to make the step up next season.
"I definitely feel like I have a chance with Caterham, and I'm ready for F1, physically and mentally, but the rookie test in Abu Dhabi is very important for my future," the 27-year old conceded.