10.27.14 (via IndyCar.com
) – A crescent moon of a smile is unveiled as Daniel Abt slides the terrycloth towel across his face following an exhaustive but productive outing at Barber Motorsports Park.
“Ich habe einen guten Tag hatte,” says the exuberant Abt in his native German, which loosely translates to “I’ve had a good day” in the Honda-powered No. 27 Andretti Autosport car on an unseasonably warm autumn day. It was an enjoyable one, too, for the GP2 driver, who came to the 2.38-mile, 16-turn road course to appraise the prospects of competing in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2015 and be evaluated by team personnel.
Interest in the series and racing in the States was piqued by an American friend and fellow competitor, and much time didn’t lapse before Abt was hooked on the series’ blend of street, road courses and ovals.
Daniel Abt“I guess it all started with Conor Daly being my teammate. He kept telling me stories about IndyCar so my attention got more and more serious as I watched the races, and I went to Fontana (Calif.) this year to see the race live,” says Abt, 21. “I’m just at a certain stage of my career where I want to take the next step and IndyCar is certainly a great option so that is why I’m here.
“I’m not just doing the test because I’m bored and I want to spend some time racing. First of all, I want to get a feeling for the car and the people. I don’t know what the options are at the moment, but I’m interested in doing the season if the package is right and everything is like I want it to be.”
In 20 GP2 races this year with Hilmer Motorsport, Abt has a best finish of fifth (Hungary sprint and feature races, Belgium feature) and one pole start (Belgium feature race). He is 15th in the drivers’ championship standings with two races left in the season Nov. 22-23 in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Jolyon Palmer wrapped up the drivers’ title at Sochi, Russia, earlier this month.
Last year in GP2, Abt placed 22nd in the standings with ART Grand Prix. He won two races and earned five other podiums in 16 races in placing second in the 2012 GP2 standings with Lotus GP.
“GP2 is only a feeder series, so it’s not a series you want to do for the rest of your career. It’s to get experience,” Abt says. “But you don’t have that many options in Europe. You have Formula One, which at the moment is really hard to get in because of money and politics. I think INDYCAR is a great series, and racing in the U.S. is different I have to say. It’s a whole new style of everything, but when you race in Europe your entire life it’s interesting to see something new, meet new people and go to new tracks.
“I met Marco (Andretti) in Fontana; just a nice bunch of people. I really liked how all the drivers were open and friendly, and I think that is the spirit that all series should have.”
Abt spent time in the Dallara simulator in Speedway, Ind., so as to not hit the challenging serpentine circuit cold, which he noted was another positive about the Michael Andretti-led team. He could fill the vacancy of the No. 27 entry following the move earlier this month of James Hinchcliffe to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for the 2015 season.