by ING Renault F1 Team
For a racing driver, getting behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car is the ultimate experience. As a reward for his Formula Renault 3.5 Series title, Giedo Van der Garde has spent two days with the ING Renault F1 Team in Barcelona. He had more than sixty laps to try his hand at the Renault F1 R28. And now he's desperate to repeat the experience!
Just like past titleholders Robert Kubica, Alx Danielsson and Alvaro Parente in previous years, 2008 Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion Giedo Van der Garde was invited to take part in a test session in a Renault F1 R28. In the paddock, the Dutch driver was able to mingle with drivers such as Robert Kubica and Sébastien Vettel, both alumni of the World Series by Renault and both now Grand Prix winners.
It all started at the Enstone plant on November 13, when Giedo had his seat moulded and attended a number of meetings with engineers to prepare for the tests.
Giedo joined Nelson Piquet and the rest of the team at the Barcelona circuit on Monday. In the morning, he was able to observe the team's working methods before settling in to a Renault F1 R28 himself.
The Dutch driver started with a series of five laps to familiarize himself with the car. The next morning, he embarked upon a series of longer runs. In total, he completed 69 laps of the Catalan circuit, which equates to 321 kilometres.
Van der Garde obviously enjoyed the experience: "Everything about the F1 car is impressive: the acceleration, the cornering speed, the brakes… On Monday morning , I watched Nelson Piquet and the technical team going about their work. That set me up well for driving the car myself. I set off on some five-lap runs and constantly built up my speed. I'm used to driving with a very progressive accelerator, being gentle with the pedal. The R28's accelerator suits the style of the ING Renault F1 Team drivers. You have to be quite aggressive with it and it's not easy to hold back. Not only was the car a great drive, it was also a valuable experience working with the ING Renault F1 Team. Their methods are generally reasonably similar to what I'm used to in Formula Renault 3.5 Series, but everything is that little bit more advanced, including the technology. The number of people who work on the car is staggering! This experience has made me even more determined to get back behind the wheel of an F1 car some time soon."
Christian Silk, Chief Testing Engineer with ING Renault F1 Team, had this to say about Giedo's performance: "It's always special for us working with a new driver for the first time. First of all, we did everything we could to make him feel at ease in the team and in the car. That wasn't easy as Giedo is pretty tall! We worked well together and he had the time to get used to the way we do things. Spreading the session over two days meant he had a night to take in everything he learned from working with the engineers on the first day. The car is not like anything Giedo will have driven before. He improved constantly and worked very well with our team."