Conor Daly: Indy 500 and European Plans
Noblesville, IN - American Conor Daly created an unusually high level of excitement around this year's Indy 500 when it was announced that he would drive for A.J. Foyt. Although his primary program in Europe has yet to be confirmed, he has had one of his busiest off seasons ever and actually started his 2013 race season two weeks ago in Malaysia in a GP2 car. His performance in Malaysia made a lot of people sit up and take notice. He finished 13th in race one and 7th in race two while setting second fastest race lap - all having missed most of the off season testing.
|Conor testing for AJ Foyt Racing in Sebring, Florida, March 2013|
|Racing in Malaysia in GP2 for Hilmer Motorsport in the #22|
In January he won the MRF Challenge Championship in India and has taken part in all of the GP3 Series tests.
Conor racing in the MRF Challenge in India over the winter in the #22. He later won this Championship.
He recently returned to Indianapolis for Rookie Orientation to be held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, only to have it cancelled because of pending weather issues. He did however take some time out for some Q & A.
Conor Daly Q & A - 2013
In the past 11 months you have either tested and/or raced, F3, GP3, GP2, World Series Renault 3.5, Indy car and Formula 1, and in the middle went to India and won the MRF Challenge Championship - that is a remarkable amount of experience in less than a year. How did all of this experience feel?
I've had a lot of fantastic opportunities that's for sure! I am very thankful for the experience and seat time I've been able to get. It's been a great start to the year and I hope we can continue to build on our success throughout the season.
Although you have tested or raced a great variety of cars, why has it taken so long to confirm your main program for 2013?
I think it's just a matter of making sure everything is in the right place before having everything announced and moving forward.
What do you hope to do in 2013?
I hope to have a strong month of May in the IndyCar and really soak in the experience. It's going to be very memorable for me and I can't wait. Also, on the European side of things I'm going to be better prepared than I ever have been so I'm really looking forward to getting to work over there as well.
You raced GP2 in Malaysia recently, how did that come about?
It was the definition of a last minute deal but I was very happy to get the call. Very interesting deals happen in racing all the time and this was another one of them!
Malaysia is known as a physically difficult event, did you find it a difficult race to finish?
It was definitely a huge physical challenge but so much fun! It really feels great to be in a long race with a pit stop as well. My engineer said my fitness was exemplary so I was happy with that compliment.
What does a GP2 car compare to?
I think a GP2 car is actually similar to an IndyCar. The IndyCar definitely has a bit more power than GP2 but it's also heavier than GP2. Both fantastic cars to drive. The GP2 car sounds amazing.
Will you do more GP2 races?
I do not know at the moment if I will be doing anymore GP2 this year.
You appear to have been travelling across the world on a few hours notice - do you enjoy this?
It's a great experience. I'm just happy to be driving cars. The travel and the hectic schedule are all worth it when you strap into that race car.
With GP2 races and the Indy 500 set, why have you been doing all of the GP3 testing?
It is because I will most likely be racing full time in GP3 this year.
You went to India and won the MRF Championship over the winter and received a lot of exposure - Why did you compete in a championship that would appear to be a lower level than those you have recently been competing?
Well I think it worked out well because it kept me busy over the winter and I also got to meet a lot of great people in India.
Are you worried that so many drivers in Formula One seem to be able to bring big sponsorship to teams?
It is definitely worrying. More and more drivers seem to come up with massive funding and it almost actually seems impossible to beat that. However, I do believe most of the teams still believe in having the best drivers available so I'm just going to aim to continue to do the best job I can do and see what happens.
Will you be doing any more Formula One testing?
Let's hope so!
What does your Indy 500 entry mean? Might you concentrate on the IndyCar Series?
At the moment it does not mean I will be concentrating on the IndyCar Series. I still have a goal of making it to Formula 1 and my Indy 500 plan does not hinder that goal in any way. In fact, I think it can only help my career. I will be learning a lot from experienced drivers and engineers which will be a great experience for me.
Do you think cancelling Rookie Orientation will affect your preparation?
Not at all. There is plenty of track time before qualifying and I have a lot of confidence in the team. I know we will be ready to go whenever the circumstances allow me to get in the car.
After the Indy 500, what are your plans for Indy car racing?
In all honesty there are no other IndyCar racing plans at the moment.
Did you expect to do the Indy 500 even though your focus has been in Europe?
I didn't expect to have the opportunity but I am so happy that I am doing it. It will fit in perfectly with our European plans if we get those fully sorted out and it will work out really well.
What reaction have you had in Europe since the Indy 500 announcement?
It was very cool to arrive at the GP3 test in Silverstone with the announcement coming out the day I got there. Everyone in the paddock knew the following day and were really supportive and very happy for me. You can really tell how great of an event the Indy 500 is when people all around the world know the significance of getting a shot at competing.
With AJ Foyt giving you, a young American, an opportunity to race in Indy - do you think that might signal that other young Americans might also get a similar opportunity?
I hope so. I think young Americans can definitely prove themselves through the Mazda Road to Indy, so I hope more drivers get the opportunity like I've gotten.