Van der Garde is one of five rookies on the 2013 grid and says the step up from feeder series like GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5 is “quite big.” The Dutchman joined the sport without much F1 experience despite being on the fringes of the Formula 1 for some time.
With a ban on in-season testing, the 28-year-old had just six free practice sessions and sharing duties during winter testing to get to grips with handling a Formula 1 car prior to his debut.
Speaking to ESPN he said: “If you come from GP2 to Formula One it’s quite a big step.”
“You have a lot of things to do; a lot of media events, a lot of events with sponsorship, there’s always a big program next to driving the car. The team is much bigger so you have to get used to everything.”
He added: “The races are longer, you have much more free practice, you have much more discussions, much more new things on the car and the car is always changing – this you have to get used to. I think it’s tough for a rookie to come in with not a lot of testing and to jump in.
“You have to learn the hard way but that’s the only thing that’s there now and you have to deal with it. I think I’m dealing with it quite well.”
His season has yet to get off the mark despite flashes of speed, being consistently out-paced by his more experienced team-mate Charles Pic.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic