Exclusive interview with Derek Daly

Exclusive interview with Derek Daly

15 September 2011 – Former racer Derek Daly speaks exclusively with GPUpdate.net about his recent role as FIA steward at Monza, why rumours about him questioning procedures are simply not true, the returning American Grand Prix, the progress of son Conor in GP3 and that high-flying accident in Monaco which continues to make headlines…

For the Italian Grand Prix, you took on the role of FIA race steward for the first time. Was it what you expected?

On the grid at Monza

(Pause) Yes. However, I would say I know how to do it a lot better now, having done it once. I was surprised at the amount of information they have. In other words, they can actually reconstruct events. If there is an incident on the track, they can actually go back and synchronise on-board cameras and team radios to that particular event which gives you a complete picture, which is something I didn’t realise they had the ability to do. So that was good.

It’s a more difficult job than people understand, because there is so much going on, but I am definitely glad I did it – it was a very interesting thing to be involved in.

How do you consider the overall quality of stewarding nowadays?

Liuzzi's HRT caused mayhem

I must admit, I was a little sceptical when this whole idea came about, because I have found that two people looking at exactly the same incident can have different interpretations of what they just saw and drivers tend to be very opinionated and not necessarily very correct at times; so I was slightly sceptical that it would bring an unstable environment to the stewards’ office.

However, what I found is that the stewards definitely relied quite heavily on the driver’s input; not just from me, I’m sure it’s the same with every driver that is up there. They look to the driver for every incident. Having experienced it now, I believe the stewards are ultimately more comfortable in their role of decision-making, knowing they have a driver peer alongside them as a decision is being made.

A rumour has been circulating that the stewards would have penalised Michael Schumacher for his over-aggressive defending on Lewis Hamilton, had they not been attending to another incident at the time. Is that true?

Schumacher's Monza tactics were questioned by many

Well, that is the gist of it, but here is what is more accurate. I was actually considering writing a steward’s blog, a minute-by-minute diary of a steward, because I found a lot of information which I didn’t know went on, really fascinating. Even in the drivers’ meeting that I attended, I thought it was really interesting how that all unfolded, so I kept pretty detailed notes.

At the Lap 20 time period, Charlie (Whiting, Race Director) asked us to look at the Massa-Trulli incident at the second chicane. We had video that was not of great quality, so you had to study it slightly more. That was the exact time when the Lesmo incident happened.

We had discussions about Schumacher – did he, didn’t he – and when Charlie warned him and (Mercedes Team Principal) Ross Brawn told him twice on the radio that he had to leave room, the situation was being addressed.

At the time of the first Lesmo incident on Lap 20 (when Schumacher moved twice in front of Hamilton), I personally didn’t see it. I’m not saying the rest of the stewards didn’t see it, but I personally didn’t see it because I was watching the replay of the other one (Massa and Trulli). If I had seen it, my point was that I would probably have made a recommendation that a penalty should be imposed.

It’s really important to make sure people have that correct. I am aware of what is going around right now – that, had we been watching it and delivered a penalty, it may have affected the outcome of the race; that is conjecture building upon what actually happened.

Next year F1 will have its first United States Grand Prix since 2007, hosted in Austin, Texas. As a US citizen, how much of a success do you foresee that being?

I think in the short-term, because of novelty and curiosity, they’ll obviously have a lot of people going. We had the same thing here in Indianapolis. But I think, unless there is a significant American driver on the grid - and hopefully more than one - I don’t see any reason why it will survive and thrive.

Formula 1, I’m absolutely convinced, is ultimately successful because of national pride in particular drivers; Germany with the German drivers, Britain with the British drivers and, unless America has national pride wrapped around that event, I don’t see it growing and sustaining the interest that Grand Prix racing does in other countries, particularly European countries.

Apparently 25,000 extra people go to Silverstone because of Hamilton and Button, etcetera; America won’t have that and I’m a firm believer that, unless they have Americans to cheer for in a significant way on the grid, I think it will be missing a major key element.

Perhaps a certain Conor Daly could be one of those Americans in coming years. Who do you tip at the moment as an American F1 hopeful?

American hopeful Alex Rossi

It’s hard to know who it will ultimately be. Right now, there is Conor and Alex Rossi. I’d like to see both of them have an opportunity but it depends on what they do in the future years. They both have to continue proving that they could potentially be considered as someone with that type of potential, but they have more to do.

I think American drivers are up against it because, for so long, America has never actually supported drivers to put them onto that global platform; my fear is, until that changes, they will continue to struggle and the knock-on effect is the potential struggle of the event.

How do you think Conor found his first year in European racing? It is a completely different format and style of racing…

Conor Daly, son of Derek

Very difficult. Completely new. Probably more difficult than he anticipated, but I still think he was able to clearly show (his talent) in the races, with some of the moves he pulled in Valencia or Hungary or qualifying sixth in the wet at Spa - that’s the modern test of a driver. At Monza he was clearly one of the fastest cars out there. So I think he has gone through what we term as a normal transition season and, if you look at (Lewis) Hamilton and (Nico) Hülkenberg and (Michael) Schumacher when they did their Formula 3-type junior formulae, they all took two years to get on top of it.

I think Conor has the opportunity, with the knowledge he has, to be a legitimate front-running, race-winning championship contender next year, which will be his next step.

We even saw Valtteri Bottas, the eventual GP3 Champion of 2011, not scoring a podium result until the middle of the season, so it appeared to be a very mixed campaign for everybody…

Very much so, yes. I think GP3 was a little bit unstable this year. You would have thought that Bottas, with the experience he brought, would dominate immediately but it even took that team-driver combination a while to get it all together - and he must have been at least three laps ahead of Conor before he even started, because of his European experience.

For many Formula 1 fans, the best memory of Derek Daly tends to be your spectacular, high-flying accident at the start of the 1980 Monaco Grand Prix. What do you remember of that now?


(Commentary from the BBC's Murray Walker)

I remember every minute detail as if it happened last weekend. It’s quite remarkable, when I think about it, because the event actually unfolded in my mind in complete slow motion. I had a clear idea of what I wanted to attempt to do and a very clear memory of when it went wrong, why it went wrong and as it unfolded it went into complete slow motion and I remember the most miniscule details – even being able to focus on the actual stones in the asphalt on the road as I was looking straight down on it. It was in that clear a detail.

It started because I was actually attempting to get to the inside line to go round (first corner) St. Devote, if possible. (Riccardo) Patrese on my right had got a sort of delayed start and I just looked over to see if there was enough room to squeeze in. At the very instant when I looked over to squeeze in, (Bruno) Giacomelli – who was straight ahead of me and slightly to my left – got on the brakes. When I looked back, and saw him on the brakes, I realised immediately that I was going to hit him. I knew it immediately, before I made contact.

Before I actually hit him, my mind had already worked through the scenario: “I’m going to hit him, I’m going to break the front wing, I’m going to stay mobile, I’m going to drive straight to the pits, get a new front wing, get back out and lose as little time as possible.”

The only problem was, when I actually hit him – and we had much bigger rear tyres in those days – his rear tyre was rotating slowly. So when I hit him it lifted my car up but, as it lifted the car up, he was still on the brakes and as I landed back on his rear tyre it acted like a conveyor belt. So, by rotating it actually pushed my car up into a point like a conveyor belt that it tipped over onto its nose. I am now looking down at the tarmac and could see the pebbles in clear focus because I thought I was going to land on the roll bar; in fact it landed sideways, just as Alain Prost arrived, but it landed on his rear wheel, which acted like a trampoline. So it just went ‘Boing!’ and, in a spring-like trampoline action, did a half cartwheel and landed on top of (Jean-Pierre) Jarier’s front wheel, which resulted in another trampoline-type move (laughs). That bounced it ahead of him and into the middle of the road.

Then I remember, so clearly: when I jumped out of the car, I saw Jarier running immediately to Giacomelli and he began ripping strips off Giacomelli, blaming him for the accident!  Of course I thought for a minute, “Hey, I might get away with this (laughs)!” and then I thought, “You know what, I’m pretty sure television caught this whole thing…”

Then there was chaos; horns, cranes, track marshals and all sorts of things. I was pretty sure the race would be stopped, but it wasn’t; they cleared it with the cranes and it became one of those memorable incidents. It might be, probably, one of the most used pieces of Formula 1 video ever. Last year the BBC used it, for the 30th anniversary, on the opening of their show for Monaco. So it’s still being used today.


Derek Daly was talking to GPUpdate.net’s Gregory Haines
Twitter: @GregoryHainesF1

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Thursday 30 October 2014

  2. 21:32

    Latest F1 photos: Thursday in Austin

    F1
  3. Qualifying revised due to smaller field 21:31

    Qualifying revised due to smaller field

    Formula 1 will adopt a revised qualifying format for this weekend's United States Grand Prix, due to the absence of the...

    F1
  4. Alonso excited by 'very ambitious' plan 19:44

    Alonso excited by 'very ambitious' plan

    Fernando Alonso remained coy over his future ahead of the United States Grand Prix, describing his plans for 2015 and beyond...

    F1
  5. Button to take five-place gearbox penalty 17:58

    Button to take five-place gearbox penalty

    Jenson Button will take a gearbox penalty at this weekend's United States Grand Prix. Under Formula 1's current...

    F1
  6. Vergne says he is 'best option' for Toro Rosso 17:45

    Vergne says he is 'best option' for Toro Rosso

    Jean-Éric Vergne reckons he is the "best option" out of the drivers vying to race alongside Max Verstappen at Toro Rosso...

    F1
  7. Drivers open to three-car F1 teams 17:12

    Drivers open to three-car F1 teams

    Formula 1 drivers say they are open to being a part of three-car teams, as the debate over grid size continues. With...

    F1
  8. Domenicali to start work at Audi this week 15:28

    Domenicali to start work at Audi this week

    Stefano Domenicali will begin work at Audi on November 1, the German manufacturer has confirmed to...

    Misc
  9. IndyCar announces 2015 calendar 14:51

    IndyCar announces 2015 calendar

    IndyCar officials presented a 17-race calendar for the 2015 season on Thursday. As previously confirmed, the campaign...

    Indy
  10. Family: Bianchi remains critical but stable 14:23

    Family: Bianchi remains critical but stable

    Jules Bianchi remains in a critical but stable condition at the Mie General Medical Center in Yokkaichi following his...

    F1
  11. Vettel: Red Bull blocked early release 13:32

    Vettel: Red Bull blocked early release

    Quadruple World Champion Sebastian Vettel has confirmed that Red Bull has prevented him from exiting his contract early...

    F1
  12. Video: Haas F1 factory build time-lapse 11:14

    Video: Haas F1 factory build time-lapse

    Relive the 339-day construction of Haas F1 Team's new facility in Kannapolis in this time-lapse video.

    F1
  13. 10:32

    MotoGP photos: Stoner in action at Motegi

    MotoGP
  14. Stoner describes 'very positive' Motegi test 10:31

    Stoner describes 'very positive' Motegi test

    Casey Stoner has described his two-day test with Honda's 2015 bike at Motegi as "very positive". The two-time MotoGP...

    MotoGP
  15. 09:56

    F1 photos: Ocon tests F10 at Fiorano

    F1
  16. Ferrari praises Ocon after F1 test 09:51

    Ferrari praises Ocon after F1 test

    Ferrari has heaped praise on Esteban Ocon after the French teenager's prize Formula 1 test at Fiorano on Wednesday. Ocon,...

    F1
  17. Warwick confirmed as Austin steward 08:59

    Warwick confirmed as Austin steward

    Derek Warwick has been confirmed as the FIA's driver representative steward for this weekend's United States Grand...

    F1
  18. USGP memories: Hamilton wins, 2012 05:02

    USGP memories: Hamilton wins, 2012

    Relive the inaugural USGP at the Circuit of The Americas, where Lewis Hamilton overcame Sebastian Vettel.

    F1
  19. Wednesday 29 October 2014

  20. Hawksworth joins Sato at Foyt for 2015 20:02

    Hawksworth joins Sato at Foyt for 2015

    British driver Jack Hawksworth will join Takuma Sato at AJ Foyt Racing in IndyCar next season as the squad expands to a...

    Indy
  21. Vettel set to sit out qualifying for USGP 18:00

    Vettel set to sit out qualifying for USGP

    Sebastian Vettel says he will probably sit out qualifying for the United States Grand Prix as Red Bull is likely to make a...

    F1
  22. Mercedes awarded the Dewar Trophy 14:18

    Mercedes awarded the Dewar Trophy

    Mercedes has been awarded the Dewar Trophy for producing the best power unit under Formula 1's new technical...

    F1
  23. Video: Pirelli's guide to the United States GP 13:30

    Video: Pirelli's guide to the United States GP

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli previews this weekend's United States Grand Prix.

    F1
  24. Stoner begins test with 2015 Honda 11:48

    Stoner begins test with 2015 Honda

    Double MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner has commenced a two-day test with the 2015 Honda RC213V at Twin Ring Motegi in...

    MotoGP
  25. Fernandes says big teams as much at fault 11:10

    Fernandes says big teams as much at fault

    Tony Fernandes says Formula 1 needs to examine itself in the wake of the collapse of the Caterham and Marussia...

    F1
  26. Bottas targeting podium finish in Austin 10:23

    Bottas targeting podium finish in Austin

    Valtteri Bottas is hoping to secure his sixth podium of the season at the United States Grand Prix. The Williams driver...

    F1
  27. Prost: Renault will find it hard to catch Mercedes 09:54

    Prost: Renault will find it hard to catch Mercedes

    Four-time World Champion Alain Prost believes that Renault will find it "hard" to reduce its power unit deficit to rivals...

    F1
  28. Mario Andretti's most memorable US races 07:28

    Mario Andretti's most memorable US races

    Austin hosts the United States Grand Prix for a third time this weekend. Ahead of the event, GPUpdate.net asked 1978 F1...

    F1
  29. USGP memories: Battle for the lead, 1977 05:06

    USGP memories: Battle for the lead, 1977

    Relive the lead battle between Jody Scheckter, Mario Andretti and Niki Lauda during the 1977 United States Grand Prix West...

    F1
  30. Tuesday 28 October 2014

  31. Video: Ferrari on the challenge of COTA 16:46

    Video: Ferrari on the challenge of COTA

    Ferrari previews this weekend's United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas.

    F1
  32. Fry says Ferrari needs to improve in 'all areas' 16:13

    Fry says Ferrari needs to improve in 'all areas'

    Ferrari Engineering Director Pat Fry says the team needs to improve in "all areas" with the design of its 2015 Formula 1...

    F1
  33. Ericsson in talks with three teams for 2015 14:30

    Ericsson in talks with three teams for 2015

    Marcus Ericsson's manager, Eje Elgh, has confirmed that he is in talks with three teams regarding a potential race seat for...

    F1
  34. Swiss firm wants helicopter to recover cars 13:06

    Swiss firm wants helicopter to recover cars

    Swiss helicopter firm Air Zermatt has proposed that F1 cars should be recovered by a helicopter, to avoid a repeat of...

    F1
  35. Video: Force India duo look ahead to Austin 11:13

    Video: Force India duo look ahead to Austin

    Force India drivers Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Pérez look ahead to the United States Grand Prix.

    F1
  36. Parry completes prize McLaren F1 test 09:20

    Parry completes prize McLaren F1 test

    Matt Parry completed his reward for winning the 2013 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award on Monday, getting his first taste of...

    F1
  37. Background: Low grids are nothing new to F1 07:23

    Background: Low grids are nothing new to F1

    This weekend's United States Grand Prix will feature the fewest entrants in almost a decade of Formula 1 competition, with...

    F1
  38. USGP memories: Six-car race start, 2005 05:12

    USGP memories: Six-car race start, 2005

    Relive the start to the 2005 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, where only the six Bridgestone-shod drivers took to...

    F1
  39. Monday 27 October 2014

  40. Sainz Jr. says he 'deserves' Toro Rosso seat 19:51

    Sainz Jr. says he 'deserves' Toro Rosso seat

    Carlos Sainz Jr. says he deserves to be given the vacant seat at Toro Rosso for the 2015 campaign, after claiming this...

    F1
  41. Mosley warns F1 could lose more teams 16:51

    Mosley warns F1 could lose more teams

    Former FIA President Max Mosley has warned that Marussia and Caterham "may not be the last" teams to fall off the Formula 1...

    F1
  42. Timeline: How Caterham's troubles developed 15:20

    Timeline: How Caterham's troubles developed

    Following a week in which the situation at Caterham has deteriorated, the team is set to drop off the grid after 93 races in...

    F1
  43. Kobayashi feels 'very sorry' for F1 fans 14:44

    Kobayashi feels 'very sorry' for F1 fans

    Kamui Kobayashi says he feels "very sorry" for fans ahead of this weekend's United States Grand Prix, which will take place...

    F1
  44. Hamilton sets sights on fifth-straight win 14:26

    Hamilton sets sights on fifth-straight win

    Lewis Hamilton has set his sights on claiming a fifth successive Formula 1 victory at this weekend's United States Grand...

    F1
more news