Conducted and provided by Derek Daly Group
American, Conor Daly will move back to England, April 4th as part of his final preparations for the 2012 GP3 Series.
He will spend his 2012 season under the Lotus GP umbrella, in the black and gold colors made famous by Mario Andretti during his 1978 Wold Champion winning season.
Prior to his departure, Daly took some time to sit down and answer a few questions about the upcoming season.
By the way, Conor will be your favourite GP3 driver in 2012!
Q: You’ve just signed with Lotus GP (ART), one of Europe’s most successful teams. Would you consider your development to be on track?
Conor Daly: I definitely think things are all going well at the moment. It is an incredible opportunity to be with a team like Lotus GP. I will be able to learn a lot from them because of all the success they’ve had in GP3 and the plan is to continue helping the team achieve success!
Q: Your next GP3 test at Silverstone in England on April 11-12 will be your final pre-season preparation. Are you satisfied with your preparation so far?
CD: It has definitely been interesting going through the testing with the Lotus GP team. They work a bit differently to what I was used to last year but I have been extremely happy with how things have gone so far. I have to get used to a new engineer and he has to get used to what I need from the car so we are slowly developing that relationship and it’s going well. We have been hanging around the top five at every test and when I look back to what I was doing last year at this time of the year, it is incredible to see the progress. I am much more confident entering this season.
Q: Have you found it more difficult than you thought it might be racing in Europe?
CD: It is definitely the biggest challenge I’ve faced in my life so far. Of course I knew it would be difficult though. I have learned so much though over the last year racing in GP3 and now I’m ready to capitalize on all of that information.
Q: After four test days with Lotus GP, have you learned anything new about the car or the series?
CD: It has been great to work with the Lotus GP guys so far because they’re very experienced and know what it takes to be successful in GP3. We have worked on a lot of things to prepare for the season and I’ve been extremely happy with how things have gone. We will use the last two test days to really focus on fine tuning my driving to their car and getting a good understanding of what kind of balance we need for the first qualifying session in Barcelona.
Q: How do you think you’ve been accepted by the European race community?
CD: I don’t know really, it’s not the most friendly racing environment in the world but I didn’t get involved in racing to make friends! I had a lot of good closing racing last year without any crashing so I hope to experience some more competitive clean racing again this season.
Q: What do you miss about American racing?
CD: I think American racing events are just so much more fan friendly and a lot of people can cheer you on no matter what series you are in and it’s really cool to be a part of. In Europe the fans can’t get anywhere, heck the drivers below F1 can barely get anywhere in the paddock! The American racing world is definitely different world compared to Europe but I think the competition in Europe is just as tight at the front as it is in America.
Q: What do you think are realistic goals for you for 2012?
CD: I want to win the championship. It’s all down to me really, we’re with the best team and I’m so much more confident entering this season than I was last season because a lot of the unknown’s about racing in Europe are now eliminated. I just really can’t wait to get the season started in Barcelona!
Q: Lotus GP is based in France – so where will you be living this year?
CD: I will live in England again this year. I’ve got a really nice place to live there thanks to my friend Chris Berry and it is easy to get anywhere in Europe from England. Whenever I need to go to France to meet with the team I’m just a short flight or a train ride away.
Q: Is it more challenging working and communication with a French team?
CD: It is has definitely been a big adjustment for me working with a French team but I have had no problem with it at all so far. The communication is difficult but if I just remember to speak slowly they can understand everything I’m saying. I don’t find it difficult to understand them trying to speak English either which is alright.
Q: Will you race anything other than GP3 in 2012?
CD: I honestly don’t know yet. I’d love to drive anything so I’m open to opportunities in Europe should they come up. GP3 has a month off in August as well so maybe I can do something in the USA during that time who knows.
Q: Lotus F1, Lotus GP2 and GP3 teams all have similar branding. How strongly are they connected and will you have access to the F1 team during the season?
CD: Well, I know all of our cars look the same! The GP2 team is based in the same work shop as the GP3 team so we definitely have access to help from them but I’m not sure about the F1 team. I’m sure we will be able to get bits of information from them as the season goes on.
Q: How much of an advantage is it now that you have raced on most of the circuits you’ll race on this year?
CD: It is much nicer to start the season with at least more track knowledge than I had last year! The only tracks I’ll have to learn are Monaco and Hockenheim but I don’t think anyone will have raced at Monaco so we’ll all be on a level playing field. I absolutely cannot wait to get to Monaco, I have loved every street race I’ve done so far and I seem to have had a good amount of success on streets.
Q: Your old sparring partner, Josef Newgarden is now racing in Indy Car. Do you ever second guess your decision?
CD: It is really cool to see him in Indycar and not only see him in the car but see him doing well also. He hasn’t done many days on track yet but after his first race going out and beating guys who have been in Indycar for far longer than him is fantastic. I must say I was pretty jealous watching him at the first Indycar race in St. Petersburg but I keep reminding myself that I’m in an incredible position this year in Europe and I just can’t wait to keep pursuing my dream of getting to Formula 1. I can definitely see him succeeding in Indycar and I hope to be racing with him again at some point in the future in something.