Montreal, Canada -- The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport crosses the Atlantic next weekend with Mexico City hosting Round 8 of the 2007-08 season at the famed Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Friday 14th -- Sunday 16th March. A1 Team Canada's driver...
Montreal, Canada -- The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport crosses the Atlantic next weekend with Mexico City hosting Round 8 of the 2007-08 season at the famed Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Friday 14th -- Sunday 16th March.
A1 Team Canada's driver line-up will remain unchanged from the previous round in South Africa with Toronto's Robert Wickens (18) remaining in the race seat, hot on the heels of his maiden A1GP victory in Round 7's Sprint race, with Markham's Daniel Morad (17) returning for a second shot at rookie duties after debuting in Durban.
Morad, the 2007 Formula BMW USA Champion, took time out to reflect on his first experiences of A1GP:
Q: Off the back of some terrific performances on your way to the 2007 Formula BMW USA title, did you hope that you'd get an opportunity to sample A1GP from A1 Team Canada?
Daniel Morad (DM): "Yes for sure! I'd always been interested in the team and obviously I'd seen guys like Sean McIntosh and James Hinchcliffe go through the program. I've also been racing against Rob Wickens for close to nine years now so I've always followed who's been behind the wheel for Canada. I definitely wanted to drive for A1 Team Canada. It's such a prestigious thing to represent your nation!"
Q: What were your first impressions of the A1GP car?
DM: "Well it's obviously a lot faster than the Formula BMW car I've raced for the past two seasons. An A1GP car has almost 400 more horsepower than the Formula BMW so it was a big step up in terms of power. The size of the car's a big change, as are the brakes. It took a while to get used to and obviously with just running in the rookie session you don't have a lot of time and you're working to the team's plan, bedding in brakes and so on. I'm looking forward to getting back out in Mexico to see how the car handles on a permanent road course."
Q: How challenging was it making your debut on the notorious Durban street circuit?
DM: "It wasn't actually all that bad. After my first lap I was pretty comfortable in the car. I think I was fifth or sixth on the timesheets after three laps. I thought the track would be quicker than it actually was. We obviously run on a few street courses in North America so it wasn't like the experience was something that was completely new to me."
Q: Compared to street circuits you've competed on in North America, how did Durban measure up?
DM: "It was pretty funny. When we were doing the track walk with the engineers they were telling us to watch out for a little bump here and a little bump there. On some of the American street circuits I've raced at those bumps just wouldn't even register. I've raced over railroad tracks in the past and jumped kerbs so all things considered the Durban track was almost more like a normal race track. There were a few similarities to some street circuits in the States, most notably the first couple of turns were similar to the San Jose track. In street racing the rules remain the same. The walls are always close and you can't afford to make any mistakes!"
Q: How much input did you continue to have with the team on set-up etc once you stepped out of the car following the Friday morning rookie session?
DM: "Well I made sure I was involved in as much as I could as I'm trying to learn as much as I can about the A1GP car. I'd make my suggestions to Rob and I'd watch him out on track along with the others. It never hurts to have another racer's input. I tried to be involved as much as possible and that should help me heading to Mexico, I now know more what to expect from the format of the weekend and the way the team operates."
Q: You've raced against Robert Wickens in karting and in the Formula BMW USA Championship. Do you have similar driving styles and how did you get on as team-mates?
DM: "Well throughout our time in karting and in Formula BMW we've always been on rival teams. Every driver really has their own unique style and to be fair I haven't had enough time in the car to be able to compare my style with Rob's. Comparing data was a first for us in South Africa! I think we'll see in Mexico how close we really are.
"As for being team-mates it was all good and I actually ended up on pit-board duty for Rob as unfortunately a couple of guys on the team had been struck down by illness. That was certainly a new experience for me and I have to say you get a new appreciation of what the team goes through at the track. It's certainly not all fun and games when you're not driving -- there's a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes in the garages. It was a good experience for me and I just tried to help out Rob as much as I could and obviously it paid off a little when he won the Sprint race."
Q: As a fellow Canadian, how good was it to be there when Robert claimed his first A1GP victory for Canada in the Sprint?
DM: "It was a lot of fun! Everyone was so excited and it undoubtedly gave the team even more confidence in what they're doing. The team has demonstrated how much it's improved since the start of the season, they've consistently been getting better and better and that was reflected in Rob's win. The one thing I really noticed about the team is how quick they are at the pit-stops. They were consistently one or two seconds faster than anyone else and that's a huge advantage to have at this level of competition. It was great to be there for the win, regardless as to who was driving; it was simply a great result for the team and obviously for Canada."
Q: What was the single biggest thing that you learned driving the A1GP car in South Africa that you know you'll apply next time out in Mexico City?
DM: "Braking was the biggest thing for me. That's usually the biggest difference when you step up in your racing career. The faster the car, the better the braking and that's definitely the big thing jumping from a Formula BMW to an A1GP car. Moving forward I need to learn to brake a bit harder and get the technique of releasing the brakes under control. I seemed to lock up pretty easily so it's an area for me to work on. I know what to expect from the rookie session in Mexico City, I'm not flying blind as I know generally how the car's going to react to certain situations.
Q: From a young driver's perspective, what does it mean to get the opportunity to test your nations A1GP car and be involved in the series and exposed to the international motorsport community?
DM: "It's a lot of fun and of course a great honour to be able to represent your country. I'm going to try and push as hard as I can in testing to show the team that I'm capable of a race seat and bringing home further wins!"
Q: You've signed again with Eurointernational to compete in the 2008 Formula Atlantic Championship. How has the recent Champ Car-IRL merger affected things for you if at all?
DM: "For the Formula Atlantic Championship, the merger might work more to our advantage due to the shake up in the schedule. It looks like we might actually be racing at better venues, for example I'm led to believe we might be racing in Montreal on the Formula One weekend which is a big deal. I think once the dust settles we'll have a better package even though things looked like they might be a bit worse for a while. Things are looking good, I ran with Eurointernational last season, we did a good job then and I don't see that changing as we step up!"