Giedo van der Garde has been confirmed this afternoon as a race driver for the Caterham F1 Team, replacing Vitaly Petrov.
Van der Garde has been in contention for the seat since the second half of last season and will join Charles Pic in winter testing and on the grid in Melbourne.
The Dutchman, who has budget from the McGregor sports brand, competed in GP2 last year for Caterham and scored six podiums and two race wins. In his capacity as reserve driver for the F1 team he completed six outings in Friday morning practice at Grands Prix. It’s another good example of a team taking the chance to prepare a young driver for a race seat, as Force India has done with the likes of Paul di Resta and Williams with Valtteri Bottas.
Van der Garde also worked alongside me in the BBC Radio 5 Live commentary box at the Indian Grand Prix, proving an amusing and eloquent pundit.
“I am absolutely delighted to confirm that I will be racing in the 2013 F1 World Championship with Caterham F1 Team, “said Van der Garde. “I want to thank Cyril (Abiteboul, team principal), Tony Fernandes, McGregor and everyone who has worked so hard to make this happen.
“I know I am ready to take the step up to F1 and all the work I have done throughout my career, and particularly in the last year with this team, has brought me to my ultimate goal. Throughout 2012 I was able to fully integrate myself into the team, both through the FP1 sessions I ran at a number of tracks that were then new to me, and as Reserve Driver, fully embedded with the team throughout the season.
This leaves only two seats up for grabs with the new season six weeks away; Marussia is believed to be moving towards Luis Razia, while Force India has Jules Bianchi and Adrian Sutil on their shortlist, among others.