In Giedo van de Garde’s podcast, De Race Show, the former Formula 1 driver seemed to be very enthusiastic about Stroll. The Dutchman, who celebrates his 38th birthday on Tuesday, called the Aston Martin driver one of the greatest talents in Formula 1. In the end, Van der Garde’s positive words turn out to be the result of a misunderstanding, before he goes into detail about the qualities and shortcomings of the Canadian. Van der Garde also sheds light on Verstappen’s situation at Red Bull Racing.
In the last part of the podcast, host Hofman starts with the listeners’ questions for Van der Garde. The first question is whether Stroll, who has yet to finish for Alonso in any practice, qualifying session or race this season, is overvalued or undervalued. ‘Undervalued. I would have said that last year or the year before that,’ Van der Garde replies with conviction. ‘Of course he is well hyped, but he also has himself to thank for that. He’s a nice guy, he comes across well on social media, the people behind him are good guys. His career, how he got to Formula 1, is just really, really good, and that guy can just drive really fast.”
Van der Garde is only praising the young Canadian, but then it gets a bit confusing: “I mean, if you saw last year that he was always faster than Ricciardo, that’s really just a very good driver, but then he has really crushed that Ricciardo last year. I think he is one of the greatest talents and one of the best five riders in the field.’ Hofman sees the confusion and asks Van der Garde again to confirm whether he really thinks Stroll is one of the best five drivers in the field. “Sorry, Lance Stroll… Sorry. We’re going to turn back. I was thinking about Lando Norris.’
Unfortunately, Stroll sees a hymn to his address go up in smoke. Nevertheless, Van der Garde also has positive things to say about Stroll. “No, if we have Lance Stroll… Where his talent really comes out, and he’s really, really good at that, that’s the starts. Last year he always took two or three places in the opening round. If he has a track that suits him really well, or if it’s wet or it’s raining, that guy is super fast. Sometimes he also has weekends where he is not there at all and is also lost. A concentration problem, he probably finds other things in his life more important and he has enough fun. That guy can really drive fast, but of course it’s not Lando Norris, which I was just thinking about.’
“You always want to have driven at Ferrari once”
One of the other questions is about a possible switch from Verstappen to Ferrari. For example, colleague Michael Bleekemolen recently said that the Dutchman can also drive with the Ferrari at the front. ‘Yes, but not for now. I think he’s in a really good place at Red Bull right now, and he’s having a great time there, and they have the best car and with Max the best driver, so I just wouldn’t interrupt that combination. Anyway, you want to be a driver when you drive Formula 1, you always want to have driven at Ferrari once.
Hofman wonders whether Ferrari and Mercedes have really done such a bad job, or whether it only seems that way because Red Bull Racing is performing so well. “Red Bull just paid more attention and just built a much better car. The others have been sleeping. I think the concept that Red Bull has come up with for this new generation of cars is simply much better than the rest. When you just have good people, especially when you have someone like Adrian Newey, he just always looks at a car from a different angle and he always designs his own stuff. That just works incredibly well and to be honest Ferrari just doesn’t have it right. If you look at last year, they had a car that’s just faster than the car they have now, and that’s just not possible if you’ve already been able to develop for a year.’
Finally, Van der Garde looks a little ahead to the upcoming race, which will be held in the streets of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. “I’ve never driven there, but I would have loved to drive there,” said Van der Garde. “It is a gruesome circuit with very long straights. I see the Red Bull flying there.’ Hopefully that is mainly in the figurative sense of the word, because the necessary spectacle is expected with the sprint race on Saturday.