They say that good things come to those wait and after a few years on the fringes of Formula 1, Giedo Van Der Garde is now racing alongside Charles Pic at Caterham for 2013.
He’s an incredibly down-to-earth gent and was happy to have a chat with us in the Caterham motor home during the Barcelona testing.
Badger GP: Congratulations on finally becoming a Formula One driver. How have the past three weeks been?
Giedo Van Der Garde: Madness! It’s been really mad. Of course the announcement was really late, it hasn’t been perfect, but the good thing is that I knew the team already so to jump in is quite good. But the press have been all over! In Holland, all over the world, everyone wants to know something. I’m handling it quite well.
Last week I went away from Holland to Spain because my trainer is from there. I stayed there, and was training really hard. It was good to go off and do your own thing and train really hard.
BGP: You’ve been a team-mate to Charles Pic already in GP2 (at Addax in 2011), is that a good relationship to start with in terms of moving to Formula One?
GVDG: Yes, very good. He already has one year’s experience with a good team-mate last year, so I can learn a lot from him. So I think yes. So far the working relationship is good. Let’s see if we can make good steps towards the front.
BGP: What do you get up to when you’re not being a racing driver?
GVDG: Spending time at home, with my fiancée. We have two dogs, but I’m not really often home lately, it’s a bit crazy! In the winter I like my hobbies. I’m crazy about football, I’m a big fan of Ajax. so whenever I’m at home I try to go. And next to that I’m quite into music. I like to chill out with music.
BGP: Are you in to food at all?
GVDG: Last few years yes. I couldn’t cook – well, water yes, and eggs – but the rest I wasn’t very good at. But my fiancée is really good, she used to train as a chef which was mega, lots of fantastic food. Once you go higher up you have to take care of your diet now, with the way KERS is you have to be as light as possible and the food is a big part of my life that I take care of.
Since I’ve been living in Spain I started to change the philosophy of food and of eating. With the English and the Dutch, we eat three times a day but now I change it and it’s now six times per day so the digestion is faster and your portions are smaller. You get all the carbohydrates and protein in a perfect balance. So I’m quite into my food.
BGP: We ask as many people in the sport we meet one important question; what’s your favourite cheese?
GVDG: Old Amsterdam. I think it’s the best cheese there is, it has a really old taste. I like it a lot.
BGP: Coming from a country like Holland, where there hasn’t been many F1 drivers of note, is there more pressure from the Dutch press?
GVDG: No. I have to say everybody’s really happy now. It’s been six, seven years since we had the last Formula One driver (Christian Albers, former Spyker pilot). When we announced it we told everyone straight away that the expectations are not high. Especially because the team is still young and still growing, not expecting to race in the top ten every race. If we were to get a point this year this for us would feel like victory.
But the people of Holland are very happy and I hope this time they start to look at the sport again, and I become an ambassador of motor sport in Holland. In the end the reason why I started Karting was because of Jos Verstappen being in Formula One. Everyone was crazy about the sport, and the young kids with their fathers went Go-Karting. I hope I can achieve the same.
BGP: Do you have a F1 hero at all?
GVDG: I think in the very early days in was Ayrton Senna. I was too young to see him race, but I watched the Senna movie. It was filmed perfectly. He lived for it.
BGP: Did you have any posters of any F1 cars on your walls growing up?
GVDG: No, actually didn’t have any posters. I wasn’t into that. Not even girls!
BGP: Looking at your website you seem quite a motivational guy. Do you have any advice for any aspiring young racing drivers?
GVDG: Everything is possible in life. You only live life once, so take the most out of it. You can die tomorrow, maybe one week, one year, you never know. So I always say take the moment as it is and live your life. If you work hard enough and you want to achieve something, then you can. It all has to do with your mentality and your own input, as well as the people you have around you, who you also choose. It’s all in your own hands.
BGP: Is nice to chat to someone who’s so down to earth!
GVDG: We’re all the same people. Doesn’t matter if you’re a racing driver, a football player or somebody who cleans the streets, we’re all the same.
GVDG: I have to say quite good. I knew it well from last year, but the front is quite positive. We struggled a little bit with the rear end in Jerez but let’s see here tomorrow. Charles had a really unlucky day yesterday (Tuesday) with a broken gearbox so we couldn’t run the programmes we wanted, but today was a lot more positive. We need to see if we can make some steps in the right direction.
BGP: Do you enjoy the whole experience of testing?
GVDG: Of course. I have to say it’s been two busy days of media, which I don’t mind as it’s part of the job. I’ve been doing filming and pictures for Dutch TV, but I’m happy to do my work before jumping into the car.
BGP: You’ve tested for Spyker and Renault, and were involved with McLaren even earlier than that, so are all your past experiences coming together now to help?
GVGD: Yes, I guess. The time with Spyker wasn’t the best time as we had a contract for many more miles than we got in the end. It was still good to jump in and get the feeling of a Formula One car. The Renault test was a gift after I won the championship that year, but nether-the-less, those experiences were good.
With last year, being in GP2 and then into F1 after that season was very good for me. I started to learn the team, the car, and the way things are done each weekend. In that time I’ve grown up and I’m ready for Formula One.
BGP: If you weren’t a racing driver, what would you be doing?
GVDG: Maybe being a DJ? I love music. I sometimes do it just for fun with friends, or at a party.
Last year in Budapest after the race on Sunday night we organised some desks and I played for an hour. It was really good fun.
BGP: You should link up with Jaime Alguersauri…
GVDG: He was there as well! To be honest, I played after and the crowd was more crazy about me than him.
BGP: We had some questions from some of our Twitter followers for you. Who do you prefer; Jan Lammers or Jos Verstappen?
GVDG: It’s hard to say because I never saw Lammers race, so I choose Jos. And I know him quite well, he used to tune my engines in Go-Kart when I won the championship in 2002.
BGP: Was that your secret weapon?
GVDG: You could say so. He’s a nice guy. A little crazy, but a good person and I’ve learned a lot from him.
BGP: Is their anything you’d like to say to your fans?
GVDG: I like to remain open, like on Twitter, to give any many answers and show the world where I am. I don’t think a lot of drivers do that. There’s two sides to me; one outside the car and one inside, when I’m at work. Outside of F1 I didn’t have many easy years, but the biggest message I can give is just live your life and enjoy it.
BGP: You’re into your cycling. We managed to cycle from Silverstone to Spa for charity last year, fancy joining us next year?
GVDG: Really? How far is that, 500km? Maybe, for just a day. Then I’d take the train!
I like cycling, it’s good fun. But then I’m quite into old sports. You know Pelota? It’s a mix between squash and tennis. I learned it when I move to Valencia in 2011 and it’s lot of fun. You have walls behind you that you can use and it’s fast, also technical. You know, it’s hard as a racing driver that you can’t drive every day. It would be the perfect job with the driving being training enough. It’s easy for a footballer to pick up a ball and train. For a racing driver you have to swim and run to keep the training going.
BGP: It’s not the same in the simulator then?
GVDG: No, you learn the gears and the track but it’s completely different.
BGP: Any tracks you’re looking forward to this season, any favourites?
GVDG: I have to say I’m looking forward to the first one (Melbourne). I’ve been there, but never raced there, but it looks nice and entertaining. And of course Spa, for the Dutch fans.
It was great to chat with Giedo, he really is a lovely chap and we look forward to following his progress in 2013. Make sure you follow him on Twitter, he’s very open and happy to engage in conversation with fans. How refreshing!