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van der Garde: It was my best day in F1 so far...
31 July 2013
Caterham's Giedo van der Garde has declared his performance in Hungary as his best to date in F1.
The Dutchman qualified 20th, 0.326 seconds behind team-mate, Charles Pic, but enjoyed a good race, and thanks to a three-stop strategy he finished one place ahead of the sister car and 14th overall. His previous 'highs' were two 15th places, notched up in Monaco and Malaysia.
Reflecting on the 70-lap race at the Hungaroring, the 28-year-old added that his form in Budapest is proof, in his opinion, that his approach is paying off and that he is making progress in his rookie year at the pinnacle of the sport.
“I'm really pleased with my race in Hungary, for me that was the best race of the year and it's great to put in a performance like that before we head off for the August break. I think it shows that the plan we'd set for this season, about learning and improving race by race, is working as I was right on the pace we'd targeted until about six laps to go when the tyres were pretty much gone,” he stated.
“For most of the season my starts have been good and it was the same here. I was ahead of [Valtteri] Bottas by the end of lap one and keeping pace with the pack until my first stop, going onto primes, on lap eight,” van der Garde continued. “The car felt good at that point and the tyre management plan was going pretty well. I was making up time to the Williams ahead when we stopped for the second time on lap 28 and I was 19th when I came back out, well clear of both our nearest rivals.
“The goal was to beat the cars we've been racing all year, so the second half of the race was really about consolidating the position we were in past the half-way point. Obviously the blue flags don't help us as we're having to race with one eye ahead and one behind, but we have to deal with them both on track and with the strategy, and I think the plan we had was just about right.
“After the third stop I was about five seconds ahead of my teammate and knew I had to make the last set of mediums last until the flag, about 26 laps. I think the fact I was able to do that shows how my tyre management is improving, and I think the mix of a good strategy and a decent performance in the car combined to make this best day in F1 for me so far.”
Pic meanwhile said that 15th was about the best he could do given he went for a two-stopper: “I started on the options on a two-stop strategy and by the end of lap one I was just behind Bottas with my team-mate ahead of him. We'd originally planned to stop around lap 10 but the soft tyres were holding up well so we extended the first stint to lap 13 so I could stay out, even though we knew it would be challenging with the track conditions!” he explained.
“After my first stop I came back out behind [Jules] Bianchi and [Max] Chilton but passed them and started to make up time to Giedo who was then in 18th. Even though the track conditions were obviously very hot the first set of mediums was performing well and they held up for the distance we'd targeted for stop two on lap 38, by which point I was 18th.
“With that second stop successfully completed I had to make the tyres last for the rest of the race, 32 laps in total, so I managed them as best I could and there wasn't really anything more I could do,” he maintained after being beaten by his team-mate for only the second time this year in a race, although in Monaco admittedly that was only because a gearbox problem put him out early on.