December 2nd, 2013 (F1plus/Bruno Ferreira).- After 19 races, Van der Garde’s highlight of the year was his 14th place at Hungaroring, which was the best result from Caterham in 2013. His more experienced teammate Charles Pic also had 14th place as his best, although that happened twice (Sepang and Yeongam). In the qualifying battle, Pic won by a slight advantage: 10 x 9.
Speaking exclusively with F1plus, Van der Garde showed some confidence about his future.
“I think I proved myself this year. I think I showed a very good potential, a very good speed. I’m reasonable confident that I can stay here next year. The question is where”, said the driver.
“My manager is speaking to several teams, including Caterham. Let’s see if we can have a good deal somewhere.” He added.
However, he made clear that he’s just interested in a race seat. “I want to race, nothing with being a third driver.”
Van der Garde considered he had a good opportunity to learn with the six Friday practices he had with Caterham in 2012, nevertheless he had a tough start in F1.
“[The Friday outings] Were the first step of a nice beginning with the team. I have to say that it was good for experience, with all the programs you have to do on FP1. It was quite helpful”, he said.
He added: “But it was tough. In the beginning I think the testing went okay, but then at the first few races I’ve been struggling quite a bit especially with the race pace, the tyres were going off quite a bit, my style of driving was overaggressive.
“It wasn’t easy, but race by race I was going better and better. Once we got the middle of the season I settled in very well with the team and it went our way.”
The Dutchman believes that the turning point was the summer break after Hungarian GP.
“I got more comfortable with the car, with the team, the way they work, the way you do everything. Since then I’ve been very confident. The only this is experience – you have to understand what you’re doing wrong, which are do you have to improve, to work on. I have to say that I worked a lot this year.”
Despite the difficult start in F1, Van der Garde reckons his progress in 2013 was the best answer possible for a rookie. “You need to show your progress, you have to make steps and the bosses stay fully behind you. That was they did with me here and it turns out good. It was the perfect situation”, he said.
“You always have to work on yourself and work on everything that you can do, because in the end this is a sport in which you can’t do it for a long time, so you need to give everything.”