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. Tuesday 23 May 2017

  2. Video: Sergio Pérez discusses Monaco GP 16:08

    Video: Sergio Pérez discusses Monaco GP

    Force India driver Sergio Pérez looks ahead to the Monaco Grand Prix, having finished on the podium in 2016.

    F1
  3. Sauber adds new floor to C36-Ferrari 14:46

    Sauber adds new floor to C36-Ferrari

    Sauber will introduce a new floor to its C36-Ferrari at this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix as it continues its quest to…

    F1
  4. McLaren aims for first 2017 double finish 13:28

    McLaren aims for first 2017 double finish

    McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier says getting both MCL32s to the finish is the team's primary goal for Monaco, and reckons…

    F1
  5. Pirelli expecting one-stop Monaco GP 11:42

    Pirelli expecting one-stop Monaco GP

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli says it is expecting the bulk of drivers to adopt a one-stop approach in Monaco, but believes…

    F1
  6. In photos: Button at the Monaco Grand Prix 09:32

    In photos: Button at the Monaco Grand Prix

    Jenson Button will return to Formula 1 for a one-off appearance in Monaco this weekend, in place of Fernando Alonso, who is…

    F1
  7. Technical: Formula 1 development battle 08:46

    Technical: Formula 1 development battle

    F1 teams applied their first major update kits of the season at the recent Spanish Grand Prix. GPUpdate.net's technical analyst…

    F1
  8. Preview: Dancing in Monaco's streets 07:02

    Preview: Dancing in Monaco's streets

    Formula 1 moves on to Monaco, the jewel in the sport's crown, for a challenge and experience like no other. GPUpdate.net…

    F1
  9. Video of the Day: Mercedes on Monaco 05:36

    Video of the Day: Mercedes on Monaco

    Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas talk about the challenges of the Monaco Grand Prix.

    F1
  10. Monday 22 May 2017

  11. Motorsport world pays tribute to Hayden 17:37

    Motorsport world pays tribute to Hayden

    Riders and drivers from across motorsport have been paying tribute to Nicky Hayden, following news of his death after a cycling…

    MotoGP
  12. Hayden dies following cycling accident 17:10

    Hayden dies following cycling accident

    World Superbike rider and 2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden has passed away aged 35, as a result of injuries sustained in…

    MotoGP
  13. Button eager for 'slightly surreal' comeback 16:02

    Button eager for 'slightly surreal' comeback

    McLaren-Honda's Jenson Button has described his Monaco Grand Prix comeback as "slightly surreal" as he prepares for his one-off…

    F1
  14. Zarco had 'Qatar flashback' while leading 14:50

    Zarco had 'Qatar flashback' while leading

    Tech 3 rider Johann Zarco says he was reminded of his race-ending Qatar crash while he was leading his home event in…

    MotoGP
  15. Turbo issue behind Bottas' Spain DNF 13:37

    Turbo issue behind Bottas' Spain DNF

    Mercedes has confirmed that a faulty turbo was behind Valtteri Bottas' exit from the Spanish Grand Prix, caused by a previously…

    F1
  16. Monaco 'all about mental strength' - Hamilton 13:07

    Monaco 'all about mental strength' - Hamilton

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says the Monaco Grand Prix is "all about mental strength" as he bids for a third Formula 1…

    F1
  17. Video: Verstappen breaks Zandvoort record 12:49

    Video: Verstappen breaks Zandvoort record

    Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen returns home to the Netherlands and sets the lap record at Zandvoort.

    F1
  18. Alonso felt Indy 500 pole was within reach 11:58

    Alonso felt Indy 500 pole was within reach

    McLaren-Andretti debutant Fernando Alonso believes pole position for the Indianapolis 500 was within his reach, following a…

    Indy
  19. Márquez was 'careful' prior to accident 10:54

    Márquez was 'careful' prior to accident

    Reigning World Champion Marc Márquez says he was trying to be "careful" before his race-ending crash at the French Grand…

    MotoGP
  20. Vișoiu joins Campos for rest of F2 season 10:16

    Vișoiu joins Campos for rest of F2 season

    Robert Vișoiu has joined Campos for the remainder of the Formula 2 campaign, alongside Ralph Boschung. Vișoiu, 21, claimed…

    F2
  21. Norris 'mega gutted' over Pau GP loss 09:44

    Norris 'mega gutted' over Pau GP loss

    McLaren protégé Lando Norris has described himself as "mega gutted" after he missed out on victory at the Pau Grand Prix due…

    F3
  22. Rossi perplexed by last-lap Le Mans exit 08:42

    Rossi perplexed by last-lap Le Mans exit

    Valentino Rossi says he does not yet understand the cause of his last-lap crash at the French Grand Prix, as his prospects of…

    MotoGP
  23. Video of the Day: Paris ePrix Highlights 05:20

    Video of the Day: Paris ePrix Highlights

    Watch race highlights from Formula E's visit to Paris, as Sébastien Buemi extends his title lead with victory.

    FE
  24. 03:32

    MotoGP standings after French Grand Prix

    MotoGP
  25. Sunday 21 May 2017

  26. Dixon claims third 500 pole, Alonso fifth 23:23

    Dixon claims third 500 pole, Alonso fifth

    Scott Dixon earned his third Indianapolis 500 pole position in thrilling fashion on Sunday, averaging 232.164 mph over four…

    Indy
  27. Guintoli keeps Suzuki ride for Mugello 19:51

    Guintoli keeps Suzuki ride for Mugello

    Sylvain Guintoli will continue to ride for Suzuki at the next round of the MotoGP season in Italy, with Álex Rins not yet fit…

    MotoGP
  28. Davison replaces injured Bourdais at Coyne 19:17

    Davison replaces injured Bourdais at Coyne

    Dale Coyne has announced that James Davison will fill in for the injured Sébastien Bourdais for the remainder of the…

    Indy
  29. Günther wins at Pau after Norris crash 17:37

    Günther wins at Pau after Norris crash

    Maximilian Günther profited from Lando Norris crashing out of the lead to claim victory at the Pau Grand Prix for Prema…

    F3
  30. Viñales 'gave everything' for Le Mans success 17:17

    Viñales 'gave everything' for Le Mans success

    Maverick Viñales says he "gave everything" possible as he triumphed at the French Grand Prix, following a pair of last-lap…

    MotoGP
  31. Harding plans Texas, Pocono IndyCar runs 16:50

    Harding plans Texas, Pocono IndyCar runs

    Harding Racing is set to add two further IndyCar events to its 2017 schedule as it bids to capture a full-time entry into the…

    Indy
  32. Bourdais 'better than expected' after crash 16:31

    Bourdais 'better than expected' after crash

    Sébastien Bourdais has undergone successful surgery and is doing "better than expected" after his ferocious crash during first…

    Indy
  33. Feature: When Bianchi starred in Monaco 15:00

    Feature: When Bianchi starred in Monaco

    In 2014, one of Formula 1's rising stars at the time, Jules Bianchi, produced a standout drive around the streets of Monte-Carlo…

    F1
  34. 13:52

    Latest MotoGP photos: Sunday at Le Mans

    MotoGP
  35. 13:50

    In full: French Grand Prix race results

    MotoGP
  36. Viñales victorious after last-lap Rossi errors 13:48

    Viñales victorious after last-lap Rossi errors

    Maverick Viñales claimed victory at an incredible French Grand Prix, after leader Valentino Rossi went wide on the final lap…

    MotoGP
  37. 12:30

    Starting grid for the French Grand Prix

    MotoGP
  38. Hayden 'very critical, clinical picture unchanged' 11:38

    Hayden 'very critical, clinical picture unchanged'

    Nicky Hayden remains in a "very critical" condition in hospital in Italy, following his cycle accident on Wednesday. Hayden…

    MotoGP
  39. Smith: Midfield slot will aid KTM progress 10:06

    Smith: Midfield slot will aid KTM progress

    Bradley Smith reckons KTM's mid-grid start at the French Grand Prix will boost the manufacturer's development curve, after the…

    MotoGP
  40. Aspar continues with Ducati for 2018 09:35

    Aspar continues with Ducati for 2018

    Aspar has announced that it will continue to use Ducati's bikes in MotoGP next season, and will decide on which specification to…

    MotoGP
  41. Viñales 'confident' over race prospects 09:22

    Viñales 'confident' over race prospects

    Maverick Viñales says he and Yamaha can be "confident" over its prospects at the French Grand Prix, with the Spaniard poised to…

    MotoGP
  42. Video: Indianapolis 500 qualifying highlights 08:44

    Video: Indianapolis 500 qualifying highlights

    Watch highlights from the first day of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, as Ed Carpenter winds up quickest.

    Indy
  43. Bourdais sustains 'multiple fractures' in crash 08:37

    Bourdais sustains 'multiple fractures' in crash

    Dale Coyne driver Sébastien Bourdais has been diagnosed with multiple fractures to his pelvis and a fracture to his right hip…

    Indy
more news