Conor Daly looking to keep F-1 dream alive
Everything about Formula One's inaugural weekend at the Circuit of Americas track in Austin, Texas, was perfect in the eyes of promising young American racer Conor Daly of Noblesville.
The facility was immaculate, the action dramatic, the interest high.
And yet, there was something missing in this sport dependant on sponsorship.
"The number of people who came up to me and said, 'You're our next American F-1 driver,' was huge, and many of them are worth hundreds of millions of dollars," he said. "That's all great.
"But honestly, it doesn't mean a thing until someone steps up and gets behind one of us Americans."
Scott Speed has been the only U.S. driver in F-1 since Michael Andretti in 1993, and he lasted only a couple of seasons.
Alexander Rossi, a 21-year-old native of the Sacramento suburb of Auburn, Calif., is the only American with a current F-1 license. He is a test driver for the Caterham team fielding cars this season for Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov. Rossi finished 11th in the World Series by Renault season that ended last month.
Daly, who turns 22 in December, is the son of former F-1 and IndyCar driver Derek Daly, who serves as his son's manager.
Conor Daly is plugging along on what he hopes is the path to F-1. While a sixth-place finish in the European GP3 class this year sounds good -- he even won a race in his second season in the series -- it wasn't enough to guarantee funding for 2013. The requirement was finishing in the top two of the standings.
Last season also cost him money, more than he'd care to admit.
"An investment year," Conor Daly said. "Yeah, I'm already in the hole (financially)."
Daly's options for next season take even more money. It's well north of $2 million for a GP2 ride when converting the currency to euros. The World Series by Renault, which is Daly's preference given the power ratio and the quality of the series, is about half that.
"Still, that's a lot of money," he said.
There have been rumors of IndyCar teams interested in him, but Daly hasn't heard them from the right people behind those teams. He said he loves IndyCar so much that it would be difficult to turn down such an opportunity, but ideally he returns to Europe to keep his F-1 dream alive.
Daly isn't yet concerned that he doesn't have a 2013 ride yet; it was January of this year before he had a plan with the Lotus GP team, and March before he had a contract. But there's been a three-day World Series by Renault test this week in Spain, and testing is a young driver's lifeblood. Missing that test has spoiled some of his Thanksgiving fun.
Daly is home for the holidays, but he's back on the road Monday for two races next weekend in India. The MRF Challenge, as the winter series is known, isn't that attractive, but Daly won the first race Oct. 27 during the F-1 weekend at the Buddh International Circuit near New Delhi. More at Indy Star