Former F1 race driver and LMP2 ace Giedo van der Garde will take up virtual arms against the likes of Fernando Alonso, Max Verstappen, Rubens Barrichello and many more in the 24 hours of Le Mans Virtual. Together with his teammates, he will try to get the TDS ERacing Team Motul on a podium-worthy position. We caught up with Giedo on social media to find out more!
Giedo, how are you doing and how did you fill your time during confinement?
I’m doing great actually. To be honest, my lockdown period was very busy. A few weeks in we decided to change some things around the house: we took down a wall and installed a new kitchen. That was a pretty good way to fill the time. On top of that I also have my own real-estate company, which was still active. So no twiddling of thumbs here.
Coming from single seaters and ultimately F1, what was the biggest challenge and difference to an LMP2 car?
The biggest challenge was getting used to having teammates. In single seaters the other drivers have their own car. In our LMP2 car we share it with two other drivers, and that makes things a bit more challenging. When it comes to the car itself, I must say the LMP2 car we’re running today feels very similar to a single seater albeit a bit heavier.
There are so many F1 driver in the WEC and at Le Mans. What’s the attraction to prototype racing for an F1 driver?
FIA WEC is just a great championship. It’s the entire combination of having a competitive field, great classes and legendary tracks. We were supposed to go back to Interlagos, Brazil, this year but unfortunately that has been cancelled.
Obviously, we’re not here to talk about actual racing. This weekend you’re participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual with the TDS ERacing Team Motul. How did that come about?
Well the TDS team runs our Racing Team Nederland car and, when we got the news that their application for the 24 hours of Le Mans Virtual had been accepted by the ACO, things started moving around. We started a team with fellow Dutchman Larry ten Voorde, two German sim-racers, Dennis Jordan and Alex Siebel, and me.
What are your expectations for the event? How will it work? Will you all be in the same place or at home?
We’re still looking into that. The idea is to spend the event together at the TDS HQ in France. The biggest challenge is the fact that there is also an actual test session at Spa Francorchamps on Friday before the race. So, we still need to look into the logistics.
Has sim racing been part of your routine?
No. To be honest, I enjoy it, but online racing is pretty tough. The few times I did it I really struggled. Sim racing has always been part of my racing career. Even in F1 we had specifically designed simulators to try set-ups and familiarise with tracks, but this is something completely different.
How close is the simulation to the real thing?
The cars “feel” very realistic although you can easily tell that it’s not the real thing. The one thing that did really impress me was the lap time accuracy. The virtual laps are very similar to the real ones.
As a Dutchman, I have to ask if you’ve tried the new Zandvoort track?
I haven’t actually driven the new track myself, but it looks really good. To see some F1 action on there, we’ll have to wait one more year. I’ve heard that there are conversations going on so maybe one day we’ll have an endurance race there. Who knows?