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Giedo Van der Garde

Now with the Caterham F1 Team, Giedo van der Garde is one of many drivers to have graced Formula Renault 3.5 Series en route to a Formula One drive. Last weekend the Dutchman made the short journey from Amsterdam to Spa-Francorchamps to cheer on his compatriots.

Have you been a regular visitor to World Series by Renault since winning your Formula Renault 3.5 Series title?
I’ve been back a few times already. I was at the Nurbürgring last year and this weekend’s meeting here in Belgium has fallen nicely between two Formula One grands prix. My manager Jeroen Schothorst is a Eurocup Megane Trophy driver and his son Steijn is competing in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0. I have a lot of fun watching them on the track and I try to be by their side whenever I have the chance.

You haven’t had far to travel. Are you keeping an eye on your fellow Dutchmen?
I live in Amsterdam and I only had to travel 300 kilometres to get here. It was a pretty quick journey this morning. I’m very close to the Schothorst family and I’m also following Nigel Melker. I drove with him last year and he’s been pretty competitive here. I always try to watch the Dutch drivers when they’re racing.

Do you remember your first race at Spa?
It was in 2003 in a Formula Renault 2.0. I was very young, 17 in fact. It’s an incredible place. There’s always a great atmosphere here and the track is superb – one of the best as far as I’m concerned. I remember driving a really good race. I qualified on the front row and came home second. I had a good time.

Do you enjoy the World Series by Renault atmosphere?
As a driver you don’t get to enjoy everything that’s laid on for the fans because you’re just concentrating on the race. I’ve seen today that there’s an awful lot of things going in the village. Everything seems much bigger than when I was in Formula Renault 3.5 Series. On a personal level it’s been great to catch up with the people I used to work with.

Do you think Formula Renault 3.5 Series is a good finishing school for F1?
The car is much faster than the one I drove in 2008, and that’s a plus point for anyone looking to get into Formula One. The main thing that this championship has got going for it is that you do a lot of driving, which helps you move on really quickly. It’s a good school for F1.

Imagine you’re on the start grid in a Formula Renault 3.5 Series race. Which position would you be in?
P1 (laughs)! I remember my Formula Renault 3.5 Series races here. I scored a pole position and won race two and had the fastest lap as well. It was fantastic to get such a good result at Spa.

Which drivers have caught your eye so far this season?
I think the drivers who are fighting for the title are the most experienced, like Magnussen and Da Costa. Among the rookies, Vandoorne’s doing really well right now. This great thing about this category is that there’s a good mix of experienced and younger drivers.

Do you think you’ll be meeting them in F1 in the future?
Who knows? They’ve got the talent, but it’s not easy to make it to F1. I can tell you that. There were a few times when I came close to getting a drive but just had to keep on working and be patient. Like I said, they’ve got the talent. With a bit of luck, they could make it.

Do you remember this photo ?
Oh yes. That’s a great souvenir. It was a pretty tough weekend for me for lots of reasons but we managed to win the title all the same. That photo was taken at the end of race two at Estoril. We couldn’t find the solutions we needed to fight for the leading places, but eighth was good enough for me to win the title. It was a great moment with the whole team and my family and friends.

Official Renault Sport Press Release.

Posted: 07 June 2013
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