Following his recent signing by F1 backmarkers Caterham, it’s time you knew a little more about Giedo Van Der Garde, who he is, what he’s achieved, and what 2013 will hold for him.
Van Der Garde first came to prominence in motorsport circles when he won the Super A Karting World Championship in 2002, leading to a Formula 2000 drive for the following season. Although he only managed 6th he made enough of an impression to be selected as part of the Renault F1 Driver development program, an association that has partially led to him claiming that F1 seat at Caterham.
The link with Renault was abruptly dropped in 2004 when he could finish no higher than 9th in the Formula 3 Euroseries, with 2005 proving just as challenging when he repeated the showing. 2006 promised greater things when he moved to the ASM team which had dominated the previous season with Adrian Sutil and Lewis Hamilton. However, he was paired with Paul Di Resta and Sebastian Vettel and consequently struggled to make an impression. Despite taking a single victory, several others escaped him thanks to an exasperating record of bad luck and mechanical reliability woes.
Formula Renault 3.5 in 2007 again was an underwhelming experience for Van Der Garde as he failed to make the podium, but his consistent points finishes were enough for him to receive offers to test with several GP2 outfits who admired his record. 2008 brought another season of experience and his first single-seater championship when he seized the initiative in the series and scored five wins, more than any other driver.
This breakthrough led to a GP2 assault with iSport international team in 2009, and three wins in his maiden season ensured he retained his seat for the 2010 season. However, that year was another one of frustration as he failed to win again and remained a lowly 7th in the championship standings. He ran 2nd behind Romain Grosjean for the majority of the 2011 season in the updated GP2 machines, but endured a disastrous final race that saw him drop to 5th in the final order. Despite this, he gained a seat with Caterham F1’s GP2 team for 2012 and returned the faith shown in him by winning two races, although 6th in the championship was a disappointment.
Vand Der Garde has dabbled with F1 before; he has driven in test sessions for both Spyker and Caterham and was a candidate for the 2011 Virgin seat alongside Timo Glock until he lost out to Belgian Jerome D’Ambrosio.
It’s not hard to believe that a friend remaining loyal to him at Renault may have earned him the seat at the French engine manufacturer-powered Caterham team.
What will 2013 bring for Giedo Van Der Garde? With prior experience of working with the Caterham team, gelling into the Tony Fernandes-way of doing things will not be difficult for the Dutchman. In Formula One terms he is relatively old, already aged 27 having taken a long time to get to the top. However, that extra time may prove to be a godsend should he find himself fighting in the pack when the lights go out.
Jos Verstappen is currently the most successful Dutch racing driver of all time – Van Der Garde has his work cut out to match those results but Caterham are confident they can make the step forward to become points contenders on 2013. Only time will tell.