Andretti congratulates Daly after winning Barcelona
Mario Andretti was one of the first to congratulate American Conor Daly after he scored the biggest win of his career in Barcelona, Spain early on Sunday morning, May 13th, held just hours before the Spanish Grand Prix. Mario tweeted," Congratulations Conor, your win made us proud here in the USA - keep it up", just a short time after he took the checkered flag to win round two of the Formula One support series, GP3.
When the lights went out at the start, Daly got a perfect jump from his third place starting position. He was forced on to the grass on the run to the first corner by the pole sitter, Robert Visoiu, but he never lifted and grabbed second place at the brake zone for turn one. The other front row starter, Tio Ellinas, jumped the start and was given a drive through penalty. Once in the lead, Daly controlled the race inching further away with every lap while he carefully managed the Pirelli tire degradation.
"Unlike race one, I got a perfect start and when I had to go on the grass I was hoping it was nice and smooth", said Daly. "I saw Ellinas jump the start and my engineer, Jo Jo, told me on the radio that he would get a penalty so I didn't push too hard to get the lead in the early laps. Late in the race when the sun came out I could feel the extra heat begin to cause the rear tires to slide a little so I just concentrated on maintaining control and being mistake free."
The win puts him in second place in the championship with 23 points just two points out of first place.
"When I heard our National Anthem being played on the podium I just had to look behind me at the American flag with great pride. A lot of people have helped me get here and I wanted them to share the moment also," continued Daly.
Daly's weekend started off well when he qualified second, just .07 from the pole. Race one did not go well however as he fluffed the start and fell to eight place at the end of the first lap.
"I made a mistake at the start. I just didn't get the sequence and clutch release right, mis-timed it at the lights and got swamped when the lights went out" said Daly. "During the race I just didn't feel that the car was right and myself and my engineer, Jo Jo were at the circuit until 9:30pm looking at data to come up with some changes for Sunday morning. Lotus GP is a great team and they gave me a fantastic car for Sunday - that podium felt really good.
This was Daly's first official GP3 laps led, first time on the GP3 podium and first win in the GP3 series that supports Formula One during the European races. It's Daly's second European win however as he also won the prestigious Walter Hayes Formula Ford Trophy in Silverstone, England in 2008 as a member of the Team USA Scholarship Program. At that time he was the youngest driver to ever win it and the first American.
Daly's next race will be on the streets of Monaco where he will tackle the most prestigious street race in the world. The last time his dad, Derek Daly, raced in Monaco was in 1982 where he led starting the last lap when he was sidelined with a gearbox failure.