Fellow American Josef Newgarden
also raced in GP3 last year. The 2008 Team USA Scholarship winner had an outstanding nine-win season in UK Formula Ford in '09, but it was always going to be a big leap into wings-and-slicks at an international level. However, Josef feels the main problem was that his team, Carlin Motorsport, by sheer misfortune, suffered more than most with the inevitable teething problems that occurred with a grid full of brand-new cars.
“Technically we had a well-prepared and strong car,” he says, “because Carlin is a great team with really switched-on engineering staff. But we just seemed to get the short end of the stick in terms of equalization with ECUs and so on. Even Trevor [Carlin] was confused at how this black cloud followed us around, even after we got pole at Hockenheim.”
Newgarden has said he'd love to do another GP3 season – and with Carlin, too – now that the field of cars appear to have had their early issues resolved. However, his attention has also been caught by potential deals with two of the best Firestone Indy Lights teams – Sam Schmidt Motorsport and Andretti Autosport.
Wherever he is, watch him – and the same applies to the guy he shared the '08 Team USA Scholarship with, Conor Daly (LEFT). Daly ripped up the Star Mazda Championship record books last year and, as we went to press, was on the cusp of signing a deal with one of the top three GP3 teams as he, too, looks to Formula 1. However, his father, former F1 and IndyCar racer Derek Daly, is encouraging Conor to keep an open mind, while using the European formulas to gain an aggressive edge. That, he feels, will benefit him if a lack of opportunities in F1 forces Conor back home in two or three years' time.
As well as the full GP3 season, Daly expects to run six of the Indy Lights road/street course races, sharing the car that USAC National Drivers champion Bryan Clauson (BELOW) will drive on FIL's six oval races this year. Clauson's $300,000 scholarship prize is another part of the IZOD IndyCar Series re-establishing its links with its roots and its links with USAC dirt-track scene.
Without question, the biggest news for junior formula drivers in the off-season was the establishment of the Mazda Road to Indy program, encouraging youngsters to go this route: Cooper Tires presents US F2000 National Championship powered by Mazda, Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, and Firestone Indy Lights, en route to the IZOD IndyCar Series. While the Road to Indy is to promote the best talents, regardless of nationality, a firm and logical structure can only help U.S. drivers trying to poke this country's companies out of their lethargy when it comes to motorsport sponsorship.