Derek Daly was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1953 and has driven in Formula Two, Formula One, CART and Le Mans over a fourteen year long professional racing career. He kindly agreed to answer a few questions recently. I started by asking him how he gained interest in Formula One in a country where Rallying is the dominant motorsport.
Derek Daly: I saw my 1st race in Dunboyne at age 12 – from then on I was hooked on road racing. I somehow became interested in F1 – I would ring Irish Press to get results. Never had the desire to rally.
2. What advice would you give to someone trying to make it to Formula One?
DD: Its like every other top sport in the world, if you want to be elite– you have to dedicate your life to it.
3. Having made it to Formula One yourself, you started 49 Grand Prix. What was the highlight of your time in F1?
DD: Driving for Williams. It was one of the best teams of that era. I managed to get myself in a position to get the call from Frank.
4. Did you have an idol or role model in your early racing days?
DD: Jim Clark and James Hunt
5. Who was your toughest team-mate?
DD: [Keke] Rosberg
6. You’ve had some big crashes during your career, but none as spectacular and at the same time, as terrifying as the crash you suffered at the Michigan International Speedway in 1984. How difficult was it to return to racing after that crash?
DD: It was more of a mental game. I had to put the accident into a compartment and not let it bother be. I was never the same driver after my accident.
7. Imagine you were a team manager in Formula One right now. What two drivers would you employ to drive for you, and why?
DD: Hamilton and Rosberg. I believe this is the best driver pairing in F1 right now. One is a brilliant instinct reflex driver (Ham) and the other is a controlled feel sensitive driver. One can sort the car and the other can drive the wheels off it. Both then push each other to be the best they can be.
8. Pirelli were brought into the sport in 2011 in an attempt to make racing more exciting – yet this year, the supplier have come under some serious criticism for causing drivers to ask their teams for permission to overtake, and generally ruining the idea of racing. What are your thoughts on the tire issue?
DD: All racing drivers should be able to go flat-out at the limit of their equipment. The false factor that Pirelli introduced was too much.
9. Recently, Pirelli and Mercedes were dragged to the FIA International Tribunal recently for ‘Tire-gate’. Both were reprimanded and Mercedes were banned from the upcoming Young Driver’s Test. Do you think the punishment fits the crime?
DD: Pirelli should never have been put in that position in the first place. If they believe that the tires needed to be redesigned, they should have been allowed to do it. The Silverstone tire explode debacle was as a result of the rules that restricted Pirelli from making changes that they knew needed to be made. Needing teams to be unanimous when changes need to be made is madness. When have you ever known teams to be unanimous with anything – they are always looking for whatever will provide them with an advantage.
10. Who are you backing for the driver’s title?
DD: [Sebastian] Vettel.
11. And the constructors?
DD: Red Bull
12. You left the cockpit and are now watching your son, Conor, making his way to the top. Could you imagine returning behind the wheel again? Perhaps to race alongside Conor in Le Mans?
DD: Never – I don’t have the desire. I would not be interested in having to push myself that hard to be somewhat competitive. It took me 20 years to race at the Goodwood Revival – that’s my limit.
13. And finally, what’s the best advice you were ever given?
DD: You are never beaten when knocked down – only when you stay down….
Images courtesy DerekDaly.com