Giedo van der Garde is optimistic ahead of tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix, after a stunning qualifying performance around the damp Monte-Carlo street circuit. After progressing through to Q2, the Dutchman was as high as 3rd position before others improved and therefore pushed the 28-year-old down to 15th on the grid.
The Caterham duo were the first to take to the Monte-Carlo street circuit when the all-important qualifying hour got underway, with only Giedo van der Garde managing to progress through to the next segment. Charles Pic could well have joined his team-mate, however the Frenchman met traffic during his final flying laps and therefore failed to improve from 18th on the grid.
Once again Giedo van der Garde started Q2 on the intermediate tyre, before becoming the first driver to switch to the super-soft tyres as the conditions gradually improved. This enabled the Dutchman to rise through the order to as high as 3rd at one stage, before the remainder of the field joined him on the super-softs and began to improve. Eventually the Formula 1 rookie ended Q2 15th for the Leafield-based outfit, their best qualifying result since Heikki Kovalainen qualified 13th for the 2010 Belgian Grand Prix when the outfit was known as Lotus.
“I’m obviously very pleased to put my name into the Q2 time sheets for the first time this year and I want to thank Tony, Cyril and the whole team for the jobs everyone did today.” Enthused Giedo van der Garde, “Honestly, it’s a great feeling, but it’s still part of the learning process for me. I’ve said since the start of the season that I’d make progress, and today showed how far we’ve all come in just six races, and there’s more to come. Sunday could be very interesting. I start between the two Williams cars of Bottas and Maldonado and I’ve had good starts all year, so hopefully I can have another good launch, avoid anything like the GP2 mess on Friday, and from there anything’s possible.”
This weekend is the third race of the season that Giedo van der Garde has managed to out-qualify team-mate Charles Pic, after doing so at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Spanish Grand Prix last time out and now the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend. Throughout the morning period, Charles Pic suffered greatly from understeer on his Caterham, which the team worked upon correcting throughout the final practice session. Eventually the issue was relatively resolved, however a combination of track conditions and traffic prevented Pic from improving in Q1.
“This morning, FP3 was all about understeer for me.” Explained Charles Pic, “We started the session with quite a long run on the softs and the car was understeering everywhere, so we spent most of the session trying to dial that out and get a better balance. By the end of the session it was improving but even on the super-softs I still wasn’t really getting everything out of it. In quali we went out early, first cars on track, and put in a good run on the inters with the times coming down throughout the session. We made the call to come in for a new set of inters with about five minutes left of Q1 but I couldn’t quite get enough out in the last sector due to traffic, but 18th is still OK around Monaco.”
Caterham are still behind Marussia in the Constructors’ Championship, however a 12th place finish or better during tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix could see the Leafield-based outfit rise ahead of their arch-rivals in the battle towards the back of the pack. Once again they have out-qualified the Banbury-based duo, after a tough qualifying hour for both Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi.
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