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GP Week : Issue 192
5 MINUTES continued ... You need to miss people. Yes. I have friends who work from eight till five, they come home, and then they spend the whole evening sitting with their girlfriend on the couch. They call me and say they’re bored, they don’t know what to do. Get a job like me, man! If only we could all be racing drivers... so how did you decide that you wanted to be a racing driver? Lots of kids start karting, but actually setting your focus at a really young age – that takes dedication. It does, but on the other hand I think it’s good that some people have this focus. I started when I was nine years old in go-karts, I went higher and higher. I won the Dutch championship when I was 12, and the European championship later. But the moment I was world champion in 2002 was a big achievement, and I decided I wanted to reach Formula One. But you really have to live a different life to all your friends. They’re going to school, going out, going out with girls, having fun, whatever. And you really have to dedicate your life to your sport. You’ve got the fitness, the mental preparation, learning the tracks... A couple of years ago I interviewed Pepe Oriola, the WTCC driver. He was about 15 at the time, and he said one of the weirdest things was that he’d go off and do a race on sunday and then on Monday he was sitting in lessons, thinking about racing lines he’d missed instead of algebra. Did you have that when you were at school? Of course! I was living in Italy for a year, and that year I did school in Italy. It was a bit strange – sometimes I had to come back for a month, two months, go to school. But in the end it was okay – I got my diploma, so my mom was happy, and I could continue racing. But I was always thinking of things I could do better, about the car, about my fitness level, about the preparation... It’s the same now. My phone bill is quite high because all day I’m calling people – can we do this, can we improve that? You should always try to improve yourself, to become a better human, to become a better athlete. And these are all skills that are going to stand you in good stead as you reach your 30s, your 40s, your 50s. You’ve got time management, dedication, planning, how to deal with competing interests. You guys are all set up for conquering the business world if you want to later on. Sure. I think that when we’re done racing, all of us, we’ve had a really good education about life. It will help a lot if you start a business, or whatever – you’re really determined. That’s one interesting thing you learn in this sport. Also you get to see the world, eat crazy food, meet people from Timbuktu to Tobago. What’s your favourite part of the travel? Is it the food, the hotels, the new cultures? Everything. I really like it – I’ve been living out of a suitcase since I was 10 years old. It’s good fun. You meet a lot of people, you become interested in what’s happening in the countries you visit. It’s a wonderful experience. I think it’s a great education. If you could take every child and throw them around the planet we wouldn’t have any more wars – they’d learn that we are all the same, fundamentally. We are all the same. That may be one of my strengths in this world – a racing driver is the same as a mechanic; everyone has to do their own job, and they’re all talented. That’s actually one of the things I’ve noticed inside the Caterham motorhome – you and [Alexander] Rossi seem to treat everybody exactly the same. You’ve always got a smile, a hello, a friendly comment. You don’t distance yourself because you’re drivers. You’re part of the team. There’s no sense not doing it. Maybe if you’re Sebastian Vettel you have to distance yourself a little bit, but I’ve had Seb as my teammate and he is also a guy who really likes to hang out with the team and make sure everybody’s behind him. It’s a human skill. People put more effort in for people that they like. If you give out positive energy, you get positive energy. 5 MINuTEs WITH gIEDO VAN DER gARDE 19 GPWEEK.com // 19 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: