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Van der Garde gets second Caterham seat
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Feb 2013   |  4:50 pm GMT  |  45 comments

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.

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I wouldn’t be too disheartened. Having financial support is pretty much part-and-parcel of F1 entry these days. I mean Alonso brought Santander to Ferrari, Maldonado has proved as quick as anyone on his day, and Perez has just landed one of F1’s most sought-after seats.

Admittedly though, I would like to see a more merit-based system. For example:

Major F3 champion = F1 entry

Top 3 in GP2 standings = F1 entry

Top 3 in World Series by Renauly = F1 entry


At present, we seem to be getting the 5th/6th/7th guys from GP2. And having said all that, my favourite Kimi wouldn’t have qualified for a Superlicence on the above rules 😉


I hope caterham F1 enjoy the view from the back of the grid, because with this driver lineup they will be seeing it most races. Niether of these drivers are real F1 standard and I don’t think will bring anything to the team other than money. I like a underdog and I’ve been routing for them from the start but this is uninsiring.


Apparently there are a lot of talented people working at Caterham i wonder what they must be thinking with the driver line up they have this season. Sadly it looks like no ambition to move further up the grid once again in 2013.

Kind Regards



I think small teams have no choice but to get Pay drivers to survive in F1.

The only way to change that is if there is a budget cap. but there is no such thing and top teams are spending 5 – 6 times more than smaller teams.


Hi James,

Can you do a piece on why the likes of Caterham have not managed to follow the road that has taken teams like Toro Rosso/Force Índia/Red Bull to greener pastures?

Is there something missing or do they have different goals?


They have only been at it three years

Mind you they should have been better last year


I think the plan was for Mike Gascoyne to lead the team to victory on the technical…but now with him off doing the road car side that plan seems to have gone pair shaped. If they go another year or two without the results how long do you think it would be before Tony pulls the plug?

Unrelated, but I just checked and its seems they’ve bunged Di Resta’s photo up next to Force India. Has he been officially confirmed now?


Shame to see the talent exodus in the last 3-5 years. The F1 non-pay driver pile is quite large now.

Alguesuari, Sutil, Kovalainen, Kobayashi, Petrov, Senna, Glock, Heidfeld, Sato, Piquet jr, Buemi, Liuzzi, Klein, Davidson, Di Grassi, Trulli, De La Rosa.

Imagine if all these names back on the grid in some capacity. Most were junior category stars. Most earned their stripes in many categories before F1. Most did quite well considering their car’s performance at the time when in F1. Most added flavor and depth to the gird. Most gave credibility ot the F1 WDC so when a Schumacher, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Vettel won a WDC it was worth something. Most cold be very, very quick on their day in F1. Some had a good chance, like Sato, others had little to no chance, like Davidson. They just had no major, major financial backing to hold them in F1.

Good luck to this years drivers on the churn. Pic, Van Der Garde, Chilton, Razia, Gueterizz, Bianchi, Vergne, Ricciardo, Maldonado, Bottas. Hopefully, someone there will really really stand out before their money runs low. (Maldonado is almost there, almost but not quite). There is another 10 or so drivers coming through ready to pay to kick you fella’s to the curb after 12-24 months. Enjoy your time.


Heikki, Kobayashi, Jaime, Buemi

They all had their chance and failed. How can people feel bad for Kovalainen? He had a chance with McLaren and blew it.

Kobayashi was mediocre at best and only got 1 podium with a very impressive Sauber.

And Jaime and Buemi? They knew what they were getting into with the Red Bul program. They failed and thats the end of it


kovi blew a golden chance when he could not hold himself in McLaren…if he had something close to Jenson …he would not have found himself out of a seat .. Kobayashi was unlucky to translate his qualifying positions to poduim finishes …perez hogged the limelight because of malaysia,italy,canada performance…

Kobayashi had only a Japanses GP to show for himeslf… but in my personal view,,,he is one of the mosting exicting talent to have emerged from the Far East… his career would have been far more secure had Toyota/Honda were associated with the sport…

Jamie/Buemi really had a tough act to follow ..matching vettel is a tall order …to get a win in a STR needs a lot of things to fall in place ..but then they say u make your luck. sadly vergne/riccardio do not actually redeem themself and may very find themself in the chopping block by the end of the season…


We will see how it goes…I am from Holland, and I have probarbly seen a bit more of his career because of that, but vd Garde is certainly not a bad driver, and at times very quick, but hasn’t always had that much luck, which seems to follow him around a bit to much. He has raced against a lot of todays F1 drivers in his GP2 years and could compeet with them quite well.

So I am curious to see how his performance will be in the back/midfield, compared to his next rivals. I wish him the best of luck, this is his chance and he has had to have a lot of patience to get it..

Very nice site James, love to read here, cheers


Tell your friends…


He tested with Super Aguri (2007), Spyker (2008 I think), Renault and Caterham – so he was nothing if not patient

Good luck to him


F1 is not a sport… perhaps never was… even less so this year it seems…


Looks like the back of the grid will be occupied by decent GP2 drivers (Van der Garde, Pic, Razia, Chilton). None will ever be superstars but looking at how Petrov and Pic compared to Kovalainen and Glock, I wouldn’t be too concerned. It’s nothing like the days when absolute nobodies were getting back-of-the-grid seats (Deletraz, Lavaggi, etc.).

Scuderia McLaren

Pedro Diniz…


Pedro Diniz was not that bad and even managed to beat Damon Hill in some weekends when they were team mates in Arrows…so he was way better than a Deletraz or Lavaggi…

Scuderia McLaren

Probably says more about Hill than Diniz…

Another one I remember who was dead hopeless was Gaston Mazzacane. Alex Yoong was not great either, but ol’ Gaston was really, really, really bad. I can’t stress the really enough.


Money has always talked in F1 especially to the back of the grid – this season seems to be even more so…. Sad to see Heikki joining the list of drivers ejected for for not having a wad of money to bring to the team… really can’t see how this can be considered a step forward for Caterham, more like a step to consolidating themselves as the last team on the grid….


the road that F1 is treading is a dangerous one…what makes the sport exicting is the drivers and the cars… it is the drivers chapionship that is the most imp and then the constructor’s championship ..

pay drivers have been there in the past and will be there in the future…but the sad fact that we now leave exicting talent in leui of well funded drivers may rob the sport of its charm … drivers like Heiki, kamui, timo add character and great clean fair fights on the track…baring the top teams ..the lower rung teams are comprising on talent…. if the action on the tracks become boring and lacks exicting talent …it will drive the fans away from the sport … hope F1 wakes up to this dangeoors trend and corrects itself….


Agree with the second part of your post, but the best drivers will always gravitate toward the best teams, and so the WDC and WCC will always be fought between the best drivers and teams.

There are good reasons for the smaller teams to be looking for cash this year (and they may possibly continue this trend for 2-3 more years), but once the prices of the new engines start to reduce hopefully we will see the high incidence of pay drivers reduce as well.


Optomist. It wont change until the global economy picks up again and there are sponsors available that are happy to be seen on something other than a Ferrari.


Disappointing choice. The fact that he’s been on the edges of F1 since 07 without ever really doing something to deserve the chance makes you wonder what Caterham really think they’re going to get out of this in the long term.


I admire Heikki for sticking to his guns and basically saying, ‘I am a highly skilled and accomplished driver and should be paid a reasonable salary for my work . . .I am not going to go grovelling around, whoring for corporate cash to pay for my own job.’ F1 is quickly losing its legitimacy and integrity as a top-tier sport. Yes, there have always been ‘pay drivers’ (I’ve closely followed the sport since the late-80’s) but never on anything close to this scale.

And Heikki was truly one of the good guys in F1. Anyone remember a couple of years back when he donated a huge chunk of his Caterham salary, $600,000, at an F1 charity event? Donated much more than guys making $10-20 million a year. He and his good friend Timo Glock must be at least a little pleased to be returning to more authentic forms of racing (wherever Heikki ends up), where integrity, skill, and sport are still valued as much as the almighty dollar.

Tornillo Amarillo

So thanks Petrov that brought $10 millions to Caterham in the last race of 2012. I hope at least he has got a bonus.

Nowadays in F1 as a young driver you have to shine, like Vettel in Toro Rosso, Maldonado winning in Williams, Perez in Sauber or Hulk in Williams and Force India. Or have a big sponsor. Or both.

There is no much room for Petrov, Bruno Senna, or the likes, they prefer rookies with money.

But… anyway, IMO it is not a bad idea to put presure to the rookies to do well (as Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton did). Buemi style is démodé.


I looked up his results and found him impressively mediocre.

James, I’d love to see a comparison of the financing he brought compared to other contenders for the seat – not to mention skill/potential of each candidate. I won’t hold my breath for this, but have you considered putting what you may know in writing here (even if figures are speculative ranges)?

Anyway, I suppose this “money first” attitude (though nothing new in the grand scheme of things), may have to do with 2013 being a transition year and teams acquiring funds to invest in 2014 cars.


Never really been impressed by Van Der Garde. Although, quite competitive in GP2 last season he was just as inconsistent. Hell, Bruno Senna was even more competitive in that series, a few years back.

And to think he was picked over both Kovalainen and Petrov at Caterham Pay driver of pay drivers, there….


As mentioned before, F1 far future doesn’t look very bright. Talented drivers lose their job only to be replaced by inexperienced drivers. Make you also think what is their objective in F1 beside commercial reasons.

Wolff fired Bruno Senna to put his client in the Williams and at the end himself leaves the team. But, secure his 30 year old lovely wife as test driver for the Williams team.

Team are running after money instead of quality. An experienced driver will bring more points. More points means more money and more

tv time.

Anyway nothing we can do but, following the sport till it gets too uninteresting.


Senna was terrible. Bottas is the opposite of a pay driver – Williams have brought in a quicker, younger guy at the expense of an older slowere one who brought money.


Some people judge Senna for his poor qualifying form of 2012 but he is much better than that! He lost 15 FP1 and had tyres not suiting his style. He will be way faster on Saturdays with 2013 tyres (with a wider

performance range) and will keep or even slightly improve the race pace he showed with Williams. He was often faster than Maldonado in most of the races – fastest lap at Spa, second fastest in India, fourth fastest in Japan, fastest at some point in Singapura before Kers failure, and so on.

As for the pay driver talk, it is a bit nonsense. Virtually all young drivers have to take money to have a proper chance in F1, no matter how good they are. Bottas may be really good but he also had to bring money to be promoted to the race seat. Senna was a wasted talent (maybe even if he gets the Force India drive) as he deserved to start in 2009 with a winning team (Honda or Brawn) and lost his chance due to the financial crisis. Even in 2010 he had not the money teams started to ask young talents to bring, so he couldn’t start with a good midfield team and lost too much time and momentum, while other young talents had proper opportunities between 2009 and 2011. Surely he would be a much better driver, much more developed, had he started in F1 2009.


Hi Martin,

I think Senna’s chances to be in Force India have improved these last few weeks, but it is hard to know.

Yes, fastest laps don’t tell the whole story. In India Senna was really close to Maldonado in the race and beat him after a very good move at a harpin. That shows Senna has the speed and race craft to do better than Maldonado in races. Maldonado is certainly more talented than Senna in the closing moments of Q2, when often everything is decided and also in Q3. In race craft I believe Senna is more talented than Maldonado. Overall I’ d put Maldonado above Senna just because qualifying is crucial. Senna can improve his qualifying form (with 2013 tyres and the same amount of track time of others) but will never be as fast as Maldonado, just like a Button will never be as fast as a Hamilton.

As for the mistakes even when he had pace to match his team mate (or be much closer) in qualifying, in Q2, I think they were related to the fact he never was absolutely at ease with 2012 tyres. He had to change his natural driving style and that led to mistakes in the crucial moments of Q2. That will change in 2013, as 2013 tyres will have a much wider performance range, much easier to warm in qualifying, suiting much better his natural driving style. We haven’t seen those mistakes in 2011 when he put the Renault in 7th place at Spa or in 9th place at Interlagos while Petrov could only qualify 15th. Also in 2013 I doubt he will lose 15 FP1 again (like in 2012) if he gets the Force India drive. So he can only improve in a second full season with a good midfield team.


Hi Fernando,

Have you seen anything on where Senna will be this year?

Using fastest lap times to argue speed is pretty weak. For example if the leading runners stop twice and a mid field car stops three times, there are generally going to be three periods in the race where the fresher tyres are likely to overcome the performance deficit to the fastest cars up the front.

Unless team mates start close together it is often difficult to compare the merits of their race performances. Senna by qualifying behind where he should – not just tyres but also mistakes in Q2 when he showed sufficient pace – would then have to fight with slower cars. Not runnng in clear air can hurt the tyres. Being at the head of a Trulli train will be better for your tyres if you can handle the pressure.


Bottas DOES bring money. Lots of it.

Scuderia McLaren

I don’t think so, I thought Toto was an investor in Bottas, looking for an eventual return. I don’t think Bottas would qualify as a “pay driver” on any definition of the term.


You made a bad choice for an example there. Apparently there are plenty of people at Williams that reckon that Bottas was the fastest of their three drivers last year. As for Susie, her role has actually been increased since Toto left for Mercedes, so clearly she’s got a lot of support from the Williams board even without her husband there. It should also be pointed out that those experienced drivers cost the team a lot of points last year.


If she is so impressive she should be in the Mercedes package instead to be driving for the competitor. She must be an amazing driver as she has been taken above Jamie, Kova, Bruno and many others at the age of 30.

Wolff keeps his Williams shares, put his client in the car and his wife before leaving to the competition. This is a lot for the secretive industrial world of F1.

Bottas only showed that he can drive fast a couple of laps on Friday. He didn’t do as Sebastian Vettle when he drove for BMW and was in the top 10 if not the top 5.

So many drivers were good in practice, but never shined in races.

Top teams don’t put rookies in their cars. They stick with the experienced (F1) racers.


It’s a development role for Wolf that all involved in are pretty certain wont lead to a race seat, but focuses on aero tests and simulator work.

And you’ve got a short memory, need I remind you of Lewis Hamilton, remind me how his first couple of seasons went with McLaren?


It’s hardly fair to compare Bottas in a 2012 Williams to Vettel in a 2006-7 BMW, when they had the third fastest car on the grid and could (I think) use a fresh engine and gearbox for every session.


Don’t underestimate Bottas. He looks like the best rookie for years, based on his FP1 performances last year


Cant believe Heikki Kovalainen was sacked ! What a bench strength we have in F1 now : Heikki, Kobayashi, Jaime, Buemi..i’m sure i must have missed some good names there


I can’t help but think that F1’s loss could be IndyCar or DTM’s gain with some of the names without a drive here.


There are lots of super subs out there now. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some changes in seats throughout the season. An F1 race winner (Kovalainen), three drivers who have scored podiums (Kobayashi, Petrov and Glock) and two solid points scorers (Alguersauri and Buemi) have been dropped in the last two seasons! All for rookies and/or drivers who have failed to impress me so far.


Look like Caterham are not looking at breaking the points duck, just beating Marussia. They have looked at the competition and thought.. Well the have Max Chilton(2 GP2 race Wins) and thought ..”We can beat them to tenth. Trouble is Marussia might opt for Vitaly Petrov. They are collaborating with McLaren. I fear for Caterham and 10th position (with the associated income) next season.


“Trouble is Marussia might opt for Vitaly Petrov”

Have just read Petrov’s farewell words for his fans. His mgmt is said to be working on for a seat in 2014


Sounds by all accounts as if Luis Razia has the other Marussia seat, having paid a rumoured $15 million for the privilege, so they’re going to be even less experienced than Caterham. Van der Garde has plenty of experience if nothing else – he’s a perennial in the lower formulas, indeed he was racing in F3 back in ’05 against Hamilton and Vettel. Clearly that speaks some as to his ultimate potential, and the fact that his multi-millionaire step-father is the one backing him financially.

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