GPUpdate pre-season feelings: Derek Daly

GPUpdate pre-season feelings: Derek Daly

9 March 2012 – With the 2012 Formula 1 campaign fast approaching, a range of the sport's biggest questions are about to be answered. Derek Daly discusses some of these talking points exclusively with GPUpdate.net to form the latest of our pre-season insights.

We have six World Champions on the grid this year and it is going to be pretty exciting - how much are you looking forward to it?

I always love the start of F1 seasons because there are so many intriguing questions and so many different story lines. I am curious on multiple levels, one of them being can Kimi Räikkönen come back and be successful? Can Mercedes win? Can Schumacher still win? That’s still a big story that a lot of people follow. Will Mark Webber stay in the shadows? Can he drive like we all believe he can or believed or could prior to being team-mate of Vettel (laughs)? There’s so many great storylines! How will di Resta go against Hülkenberg? Is di Resta about to take another step forward and be a legitimate contender for a Ferrari, McLaren or Mercedes seat in the future? There’s just so many great storylines.

Toro Rosso dumps both of their drivers…almost a savage move but it shows that there’s no sentiment, no room for emotion attachment - it’s pure business. You do it or you don’t…and maybe at the World Championship level that is the way it should be. So I just love the storylines, I love to watch them unfold because, without a doubt, F1 has more human drama storylines I believe than any other sport in the world.

In the UK we have a split television deal for this year. Sky Sports is broadcasting all races live but on a pay-per-view package whereas the BBC is only showing ten of them on free-to-air. Could that damage F1 in the UK over the next few years?

My opinion is that the UK will get used to it very quickly. It’s new, it’s different, but here in America we have always had pay-per-view cable television for F1 and people don’t know any better -you have to buy a special sports package which has Speed TV. So for the UK it’s different and people won’t like it but they’ll get used to it pretty quickly.

From a British perspective, Lewis Hamilton was up and down in 2011 for all sorts of reasons. Do you think he is now capable of putting all of that behind and returning to his old self this year?

Yes, he is capable. I believe he will only get better. His challenge will be: can he become disciplined enough to concentrate more on setup of the racing car rather than driving a racing car as fast as he can drive it? We now know he didn’t learn that discipline the early years in the junior formulae because he lived on his pure speed, a bit like Juan Pablo Montoya did and like Kimi Räikkönen does.

Now that he is at the very top, he has to learn the discipline of car setup to make sure he goes to the line with a car that is actually fast enough…and then put his speed skills to work. He is now matched with a driver (Jenson Button) who is really, really fast and has setup skills. It is actually the perfect team situation for McLaren, to have a really good setup guy and a really good instant reflex guy, but they both need different support. So Lewis’ support system needs to drill the discipline into him: how can we make this car faster Lewis? Forget driving it fast, we know that is a given, but how can we make it fast and make it last on the quirky tyres which we now use?

Last year Hamilton seemed to be affected by relationship problems and all of these things we were hearing in the press. Based on what you experienced during your own career, can such personal problems affect what you are doing on the track?

Yeah, I believe it does. In 1982 I had a lot of personal problems off the track and I believe it affected my performance on-track. Elite athletes need strong environment management - and that is away from the race track as well as on a race weekend.

Michael Schumacher has not had a podium finish since rejoining F1 in 2010. Being realistic, what is the most Michael should be expecting to achieve if the car is quick this year?

Michael’s days of realistically challenging someone like a Vettel, I believe, are over. A race could fall his way…Vettel falls out, the Mercedes is pretty good, Rosberg has trouble…and he could win a race. But, as a genuine front-running threat on a regular basis, I think those days are over for Michael. I think elite athletes have a window. He is still exceptionally good but I don’t believe, when you have had a lay off for three years, you can emotionally pull yourself to the level you need to be.

I believe, with world-class athletes, there is a certain momentum and success that follows that gives confidence, that gives more success, that gives more momentum…and when you get to the top of the tree I think it takes so much, mentally and emotionally, to put yourself there. I don’t think elite athletes can drop off and then ever push to that level again. It’s a bit like Pirelli tyres: when they’re brand-new you can get to the ultimate speed, but once they cure you can never quite get there again. I believe elite athletes are the same.

In motor racing there is obviously a car involved whereas in tennis, athletics and football they know it can only be the athlete who is under-performing. Do you think the car can almost disguise that, so it is harder to tell whether it is the car under-performing or the driver?

No…because in this case I believe that, if you put Schumacher into the Red Bull car, he would not match Vettel. It’s a natural maturing process (laughs)!

We mentioned Kimi Räikkönen earlier. Do you think he can still cut it after two years? Also, does the motivation factor still come into it?

I’ll be surprised if he cuts it again, unless he’s had a renewing of the mind and he genuinely drives himself harder than he has driven himself before…and I don’t know whether he has that ability or that desire. I believe Formula 1 is at a higher level than it was when he left. I am unconvinced that he will personally drive himself as hard as he will need to drive to run with a Vettel; he is a driver that does not possess the setup discipline to work through developing a racing car.

He is going to need a lot of support from his team-mate and from the team to make sure he has a car which is good enough. I don’t know how technically accurate Romain Grosjean is; he can’t be that technically accurate because he is too new…

…however, as Romain has mentioned, he already has one year of Pirelli tyres under his belt from GP2. Do you think Kimi has a reason to be nervous about Grosjean out-pacing him from time to time?

It will probably happen, certainly in the first half of the season. But, overall, when you look at the complete picture of the season, the questions which will be asked and then answers are: can he drive himself further than he has ever done before? That is doubtful. Can he get the technical support around him? Remember, that needs an accurate technical driver as a team-mate and a lot of that comes with experience - we know that’s not there.

So I’ll be surprised if Kimi is ultimately successful. We know he is one of the fastest drivers who ever drove a Formula 1 car. That is no longer good enough. Formula 1 is much more specialised in recent years than it was two or three years ago. The windows of how to get the speed and maximise it are now much smaller.

If you could predict one name for the Champions, driver and constructor this year, who would you be going for?

(Laughs) One driver and one team to become World Champion...(pause)…Vettel and Button! And I have to go Red Bull and McLaren! If you think about it, there are so many incredible storylines it is almost impossible! McLaren could have a disaster car...or Vettel could spin and break his wrist in testing and suddenly he is gone for the first three races. Anything could happen.


Derek Daly was speaking exclusively with GPUpdate.net in Indianapolis


Next time: Mark Blundell, former F1 driver and recent television pundit

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Saturday 20 December 2014

  2. McLaren sure it understands test woes 09:17

    McLaren sure it understands test woes

    McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier says the squad understands the problems which affected the team during its first...

    F1
  3. Video of the Day: Ferrari F1 demo in Bologna 05:11

    Video of the Day: Ferrari F1 demo in Bologna

    Watch highlights of Giancarlo Fisichella's Ferrari Formula 1 demo at the recent Bologna Motor Show.

    F1
  4. Friday 19 December 2014

  5. BayernLB files law suit against Ecclestone 17:31

    BayernLB files law suit against Ecclestone

    German bank BayernLB has confirmed that it has filed a law suit against Bernie Ecclestone in relation to the sale of Formula...

    F1
  6. Ferrari confirms Vergne as test driver 16:40

    Ferrari confirms Vergne as test driver

    Ferrari has confirmed that former Toro Rosso racer Jean-Éric Vergne has joined the team as test driver and will focus on car...

    F1
  7. F1 2014: Biggest controversies of the season 16:17

    F1 2014: Biggest controversies of the season

    Formula 1 was full of talking points both on and off the track in 2014, with team-mate clashes and regulations being...

    F1
  8. Rossi expecting boost for America in 2016 14:19

    Rossi expecting boost for America in 2016

    Alexander Rossi believes that 2016 could turn out to be a positive year for America's involvement in Formula 1, when Gene...

    F1
  9. Campos replaces Hilmer in GP3 line-up 12:09

    Campos replaces Hilmer in GP3 line-up

    Adrian Campos' eponymous team will replace Hilmer Motorsport in GP3 next season. Campos, whose outfit returned to GP2 in...

    GP3
  10. Toro Rosso on upwards trajectory – Tost 09:42

    Toro Rosso on upwards trajectory – Tost

    Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost believes that his squad is on an upwards curve after the outfit recovered from a...

    F1
  11. Nasr chooses 12 as race number 07:44

    Nasr chooses 12 as race number

    Felipe Nasr has confirmed that he will race with number 12 when he makes his Formula 1 debut with Sauber in 2015. Nasr,...

    F1
  12. Video of the Day: Mercedes duo design cars 05:04

    Video of the Day: Mercedes duo design cars

    Mercedes-Benz has celebrated winning both Formula 1 world titles with special models of the AMG SL 63, created by drivers...

    F1
  13. Thursday 18 December 2014

  14. 17:03

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  15. Ecclestone formally reappointed to F1 board 16:40

    Ecclestone formally reappointed to F1 board

    Bernie Ecclestone has been reappointed to the Formula 1 board and will continue as CEO of the Formula One Group, while Luca...

    F1
  16. New Sauber passes FIA crash tests 16:06

    New Sauber passes FIA crash tests

    Sauber has confirmed that its 2015 Formula 1 chassis, the C34, has passed the first stage of the FIA's mandatory crash...

    F1
  17. Horner: Newey will still attend some races 14:09

    Horner: Newey will still attend some races

    Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says Adrian Newey will still attend a selection of Formula 1 races next season, even...

    F1
  18. Tech 1 signs Aurélien Panis for 2015 season 10:36

    Tech 1 signs Aurélien Panis for 2015 season

    Aurélien Panis, son of ex-Formula 1 driver Olivier, will graduate to Formula Renault 3.5 with the Tech 1 Racing squad next...

    FR 3.5
  19. Lotus approached Alonso over 2015 seat 09:23

    Lotus approached Alonso over 2015 seat

    Lotus owner Gérard Lopez has revealed that the team gave Fernando Alonso "a real option" to consider for the 2015 Formula 1...

    F1
  20. Video of the Day: Ferrari's Christmas lunch 05:09

    Video of the Day: Ferrari's Christmas lunch

    Ferrari recently hosted staff and representatives at its annual Gestione Sportiva Christmas Lunch.

    F1
  21. Wednesday 17 December 2014

  22. Ferrari tyre chief to leave at end of year 15:45

    Ferrari tyre chief to leave at end of year

    Ferrari tyre performance chief Hirohide Hamashima will leave the team at the end of the year, as the Scuderia continues to...

    F1
  23. Video: Carlos Sainz's title-winning season 13:49

    Video: Carlos Sainz's title-winning season

    Relive Carlos Sainz Jr.'s journey to the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 title. Next year, the Spaniard graduates to Formula 1 with...

    FR 3.5
  24. Watson takes on expanded Toro Rosso role 12:07

    Watson takes on expanded Toro Rosso role

    Newly-appointed Toro Rosso Team Manager Graham Watson will take on an expanded role following Sporting Director Steve...

    F1
  25. Wolff: Spa clash allowed Mercedes to clear air 09:56

    Wolff: Spa clash allowed Mercedes to clear air

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the clash between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton at the Belgian Grand Prix allowed him to...

    F1
  26. Video of the Day: Hamilton on his 'greatest year' 05:17

    Video of the Day: Hamilton on his 'greatest year'

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton reflects on "the greatest year of my life" after winning the 2014 Formula 1 world title and...

    F1
  27. Tuesday 16 December 2014

  28. Fry, Tombazis to leave Ferrari in reshuffle 18:48

    Fry, Tombazis to leave Ferrari in reshuffle

    Ferrari has announced that Pat Fry and Nikolas Tombazis are to leave the outfit as part of a major reshuffle under new team...

    F1
  29. Stolen Red Bull trophies recovered from lake 15:57

    Stolen Red Bull trophies recovered from lake

    A number of trophies stolen in a burglary at Red Bull's Formula 1 headquarters earlier this month have been recovered from a...

    F1
  30. Ferrari secures backing from América Móvil 15:37

    Ferrari secures backing from América Móvil

    Ferrari has secured a new sponsor in the form of Mexican telecommunications giant América Móvil. The company's arrival f...

    F1
  31. Di Montezemolo: Vettel the right choice for Ferrari 13:12

    Di Montezemolo: Vettel the right choice for Ferrari

    Former Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo says the team made "the right choice" by signing Sebastian Vettel as Fernando...

    F1
  32. Vergne 'very happy' with Formula E debut 12:36

    Vergne 'very happy' with Formula E debut

    Jean-Éric Vergne says he was "very happy" with his debut weekend in Formula E, despite losing a potential victory on the...

    FE
  33. Marussia F1 assets to be auctioned 09:31

    Marussia F1 assets to be auctioned

    The collapsed Marussia Formula 1 team's various assets will begin to be auctioned off by administrators on Tuesday, the...

    F1
  34. Video of the Day: Red Bull's 2014 season review 05:04

    Video of the Day: Red Bull's 2014 season review

    Red Bull Racing takes a look back at its 2014 Formula 1 campaign in the form of a Parallax video.

    F1
  35. Monday 15 December 2014

  36. Gutiérrez named Ferrari reserve driver 14:55

    Gutiérrez named Ferrari reserve driver

    Ferrari has signed Esteban Gutiérrez as its test and reserve driver for the 2015 campaign. Gutiérrez makes the switch a...

    F1
  37. Alguersuari says Formula 1 is 'a big GP2' 14:53

    Alguersuari says Formula 1 is 'a big GP2'

    Ex-Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari says Formula 1 is now less of a challenge for rookies, describing the top echelon as...

    F1
  38. Frijns officially parts ways with Caterham 11:47

    Frijns officially parts ways with Caterham

    Robin Frijns has officially split from the Caterham Formula 1 team, with his contract expiring on Monday. The Dutchman...

    F1
  39. Video: Race Of Champions highlights 11:02

    Video: Race Of Champions highlights

    Enjoy highlights of the 2014 Race Of Champions, won by ex-Formula 1 driver David Coulthard.

    Misc
  40. Nielsen joins Williams as Sporting Manager 09:11

    Nielsen joins Williams as Sporting Manager

    Williams has appointed Steve Nielsen to a new role of Sporting Manager with immediate effect. Nielsen's switch comes just...

    F1
  41. Button insists multi-year McLaren deal necessary 08:57

    Button insists multi-year McLaren deal necessary

    Jenson Button says that a multi-year deal with McLaren was necessary due to the nature of the squad's new project with...

    F1
  42. Video of the Day: McLaren unveils 2015 line-up 05:02

    Video of the Day: McLaren unveils 2015 line-up

    Go behind-the-scenes at McLaren's Technology Centre in Woking during last week's announcement of its 2015 driver line-up.

    F1
  43. Sunday 14 December 2014

  44. Hamilton wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year 22:28

    Hamilton wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year

    World Champion Lewis Hamilton has added to his post-season accolades by winning the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of...

    F1
  45. 19:20

    Latest Photos: Race Of Champions 2014

    Misc
  46. Coulthard storms to Race Of Champions crown 19:18

    Coulthard storms to Race Of Champions crown

    Former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard became the Champion Of Champions as he beat Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein...

    Misc
  47. Lorenzo takes class win in Abu Dhabi 15:46

    Lorenzo takes class win in Abu Dhabi

    Two-time MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo took a victory in the Gentlemen class at the Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi,...

    Misc
more news