Malaysia F1 Team Revs Up for Home Race at Formula One Grand Prix 2013, Caterham F1 Drivers Meet & Greet

Caterham F1 Drivers Meet & Greet at Pavilion Pitstop 2013 

The city is abuzz with activities as the heat escalates for the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix weekend. There is surefire excitement as the world of Formula One congregate for the most prestigious of motorsports events. In the true spirit of Malaysia Boleh, the Caterham F1 team gears up for their home race and made a pit stop at Pavilion KL to meet and greet fans. Here, we give you the low down on Malaysia’s home team.

Ma Qing Hua & Giedo van der Garde at Pavilion Pit Stop 2013

Giedo van der Garde (Giedo), Driver
Ma Qing Hua (Ma), Reserve driver

1. Is this your first visit to Malaysia?
Giedo: I’ve been to Malaysia 3-4 times, once for a holiday, for racing last year and a couple of years ago.
Ma: I’ve been here a few times for some smaller races.

2. Have you tried any local food? What have you tried?
Giedo: Yes I have but I don’t know the names – I’ve tried some noodles, some rice, chicken with a lot of spices.
Ma: I’ve tried Hokkien mee, fried mee hoon and curry mee.
3. Which do you like best?
Giedo: The spicy food!
Ma: Curry mee

4. What do you do when you’re not racing or training?
Giedo: When I’m not racing, I enjoy time with my girlfriend and our two dogs, just chill as I only get to spend 2-3 months in a year at home. I also like to deejay and I love football – supporting the Dutch team, the Ajax Amsterdam.
Ma: Snooker and video games (racing games!)

5. You’ve been to all parts of the world for races, where would you definitely return to for a good holiday?
Giedo: At only 27, I’ve seen all the world’s continents. It’s been great and absolutely amazing but I’d definitely like to see parts of the world I’ve never been to such as Hawaii and Scandinavia.
Ma: Malaysia. It would be my first choice as I feel at home as an Asian and I like the food and drink here.

6. Where are you based and where do you train?
Giedo: I’m based in Amsterdam, Holland but my trainer is Spanish so my training is also in Valencia, Spain.
Ma: I go to London for training and for races, but I travel all over the world for races throughout the season. If the race is in Europe, I’m based in London; if the race is in Asia, most likely I will be in Shanghai.

7. How would you describe your personal fashion style?
Giedo: Crazy – I love unusual, outstanding designs; I like to look a little different from other people. I work with my clothing sponsor whose designs I love – I walk in, choose what I like, a different collar, different patterns, buttons etc. and create my own style.
Ma: I prefer smart casual, I’m easily attracted to black, grey and whites - definitely not hip-hop style for me.

8. Do you enjoy shopping? What do you usually shop for?
Giedo: I don’t enjoy shopping so much so I’m fairly quick, I get what I need or want and I’m out of there.
Ma: It depends on what I need. Normally I start shopping with clothing, I love to shop in Malaysia because shopping in Shanghai is so much more expensive.

9. What’s a typical day like for you?
Giedo: Racing days are busy – I wake up early to the gym, go to the track and meet with engineers, media activities, have a good meal, race, more media activities, meet with engineers again for post mortem, fly home – these are generally long days of 12-15hrs.
On a personal day – I wake up later, have a good breakfast, go to the gym, walk and spend time with my family, my dogs, lunch, and basically just chill out.
Ma: If I am in Shanghai, I will arrange my media activities in the morning, then after some rest I go back to training again in the afternoon.

10. You’ve been racing since you were in your teens, where do you see yourself in 5/10 years?
Giedo: Hope to still be in Formula One, still loving what I do; build up something with Caterham F1, a podium finish or even a race win!
Ma: I just obtained my F1 license last year, my dream is to become a Formula One driver. I have to train a lot on my basics which I am currently doing, but definitely working towards that dream.

11. If you weren’t an F1/race car driver, what would you be?
Giedo: I’d be a deejay – spinning Progressive House music.
Ma: I have never given that any thought, my life is all about racing only!

12. What is the single most embarrassing thing you have ever done?
Giedo: Can’t tell you that.
Ma: I become tongue-tied at press conferences. All those people looking at me and the awkward silence are embarrassing. Now I am improving a lot.

Caterham F1 at Pavilion Pit Stop 2013

Tom Webb, Caterham F1 spokesperson

1. They say home races are the most empowering, do you agree/ how does the Caterham F1 team feel about that? 

Agree 100% - Formula One is an incredible event wherever we go. We go around the world and everywhere that we go, we see thousands of screaming fans, big billboard posters, images of the drivers in the airports. This is entertainment, this is the biggest movie on the planet and it moves around the world all the time.

When we go to a home race, that’s multiplied by a thousand – you see passion and excitement and an energy that we don’t really get in other places, and it is a great feeling – to see the fans (at Pavilion Pit Stop) and you see people really care and they want to be a part of this. It makes everybody work that much harder. It might be hot, it might be tough work, but it means we have a little bit more motivation to do a great job.   

2. The weather in Malaysia is significantly different from Europe where most of the team is based. Do you think that will affect the car/drivers and the team’s performance?

The team prepare for this type of environment throughout the entire winter, we started as soon as last year’s season finished. Drivers work very hard on their cardio and their own fitness level – make sure they’re ready physically.

Also, they lose up to 4L of fluids during the race, so they’ll build up their fluid intake throughout the entire week, to the point where on race day they actually drink about 6L of fluid before they get in the car. They work on that very carefully.

We then also have to make sure the guys in the garage are in a similar way being prepared for it – we work carefully on their diet, make sure they’re taking enough liquid, not drinking too many beers the night before, getting regular sleep and actually physically prepared for it. It is tough but we make sure everyone’s prepared properly so that we can perform in this heat.

3. 6L of fluid! What do you do if you have to go during the race?

You could stop, and you’d probably be the biggest story of the season [chuckles]. Or you hold it in – you haven’t got room to cross your legs so you just have to use mental willpower. Or (this is a real secret) a lot of them just…

4. Being relatively new on the F1 scene, what is the outlook/hopes/expectations of Caterham F1 Team for this Grand Prix season?

This is a really important season for Formula One because it’s the last year of the current rules. The rules will change dramatically for next year. We change the engines – much smaller turbo-charged, more efficient engines. The cars are going to be redesigned.

We’re dedicating our resources to next year, where we have a kind of level playing field because all the teams have to start again. So for us this year is about doing the best we can, but it’s a lot about next year, about looking forward to 2014.

5. What are the team’s biggest obstacles/ challenges?

There are a lot of obstacles. F1 is the peak of motorsports, if it wasn’t difficult, it wouldn’t be F1.

Off-track: competing for sponsorship, not only with other F1 teams but with soccer teams, rugby, cricket, the Olympics, the World Cup, and then Hollywood studios. One of the biggest challenge for us is to bring in sponsors and partners who really add to our team. We’re very lucky that we have some really cool people who help us grow as a team and help us develop.

On-track: bridge the gap to the cars ahead. In F1 we may finish one lap or two seconds behind the guy who’s quicker, and that’s almost the blink of an eye, it’s a very short space of time. But to bridge that gap requires hundreds of millions of dollars of resource and investment. and our challenge is to keep developing in a way that’s sustainable; not growing beyond our means, not borrowing money that we don’t have and continuing to employ the right people, put them in the right places and have a long-term view.

We don’t think about racing from day to day, we think about it from decade to decade. We want to be here in 10 years, 30 years, and we want Malaysia to one day have its own F1 team winning races.

6. What does the team do to relax?

Sleep, watch movies, catch up with family on Skype and occasionally we’re allowed one cold beer (once a year). But drivers are never allowed to drink, they have to stay super fit.

7. You travel all over the world but do you get to see the all the cities?

We make time, when the team gets into a city, we check in, shower and head out into town. Whether it’s shopping, eating, then we start sharing Facebook pictures at the Petronas Twin Towers etc. Some races you don’t get time e.g. Spain, Monaco.

8. Will the team be doing anything touristy while in KL? 

This trip I’ll be catching a basketball game, trying some restaurants; we had street food at Petaling Street, we’ll be heading to an elephant sanctuary in the north.  Then most of the team will probably sit by the swimming pool – the guys prefer to hang by the pool in Malaysia than in Europe.  

Did you know?

Giedo van der Garde
Ma Qing Hua马青
Reserve driver
Tom Webb
Team spokesperson
Favourite food – Japanese. Although from the Netherlands, Giedo loves spicy food especially those in Malaysia!
Ma has made the history as the first Chinese-born driver to drive a Formula One car. He is also the first driver to gain an F1 license in China.

Tom has been in the Formula One business for 15 years.

F1 drivers are always on diet as they have to stay fit with the right amount of food, the right portion and nutrition. To achieve that, Giedo cooks his own meals a lot.

Ma maintains a dual role of GP2 driver and F1 Reserve for Caterham.

Tom has been with Caterham almost since it started, Dec 2009 – when Caterham F1 was just seven weeks old as Employee #33 and he has loved every minute since!
Always into fashion, loves unusual designs to keep himself different from others.
Giedo love shoes – he admittedly has some 20-30 pairs of them!

Asked about the most exciting thing about living in London/ Europe for his training, he says: To be frank, most of the entertainment in London is drinking, but I cannot drink, I get drunk so easily.

The team travels all around the world for races and only spends an average of 2-3 months at home.
Giedo has two dogs named Lucky and Chucky – yes named after the Chucky from Child’s Play. He’s not evil though. 

Drivers have to focus very much on cardio training, as they have to be fit to the point that they can finish a round of marathon at any given time.

They also need to strengthen the arms and leg muscles without gaining too much muscle weight as weight could be a determining factor to winning or losing.

A taller person might have a disadvantage because they tend to weigh more. Ma’s current weight of 61kg has to be balanced between 58kg to 65kg for optimum performance.

From 2014, Formula One teams will move from the current 2.4L v8 to 1.6L v6 Twin Turbo engines. That means smaller engines with double the power.

Each F1 team will start from scratch to redesign their cars for the new regulations.

Upon retirement, Giedo would like to enjoy other racing categories, enjoy life, explore some other business and fun activities. One of them – climb Mount Everest.

Ma fancies retiring to Spain – the weather and the food are very appealing to him.
Caterham F1 is investing its resources and looking forward to 2014, where the playing field will be somewhat leveled with the new regulations.

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