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Carpenter targets retaining Daly over F1 exiles for 2021

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Ed Carpenter says he's focused on retaining Conor Daly and the US Air Force sponsorship for 2021 rather than chasing a Formula 1 star.

With a selection of experienced F1 names and promising F2 drivers coming to the end of their current contracts, there has been much speculation that one or two might make the move to IndyCar.

The F1 drivers with unconfirmed futures include Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez, Daniil Kvyat and Romain Grosjean, while Callum Ilott, currently second in the F2 championship ahead of the Bahrain finale this weekend, also has no F1 options available.

Ed Carpenter Racing was thought to be particularly attractive to European drivers given that spot is open in the #20 car for road and street courses only, since Carpenter himself races that entry on the ovals.

In addition, ECR is known for the quality of its operation, with Josef Newgarden at the wheel ECR was a championship contender as recently as 2016, eventually finishing fourth in the points table.

However, no transatlantic move has been made, although Kevin Magnussen will race for Chip Ganassi Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

But Carpenter says he has not been sifting through the European talent, because he would prefer to retain Conor Daly and the US Air Force sponsorship for a second year.

In 2020, Daly competed in all eight of the road and street course races plus the Indy 500 with ECR alongside Rookie of the Year Rinus VeeKay, while racing the other five oval rounds for Carlin.

"We're working through it at the moment, but our hope is to have not only Conor but also the US Air Force return for next year," Carpenter told Autosport.

"We're working through it, it's still in motion and we hope to have some positive news sometime soon – but we never like to count our chickens before they're hatched. Hopefully, at the minimum, the programme will look the same as it did last year.

"I've really just been focused on keeping the programme that we have, and I haven't done as much outreach as I have in other years.

"I want the continuity. We've had quite a lot of change over the last four years and I really think it's important to settle in. We really like both Rinus and Conor, and so that's been what I'm working toward.

"I'm aware there are good F1 drivers available, but I haven't looked outside of IndyCar as I have in other years because I like what we have already."

Autosport has produced a standalone special magazine to celebrate our 70th birthday. All current print subscribers will receive a copy for free. To order your copy of the 196-page Autosport 70th Anniversary issue, please go to: autosport.com/autosport70th

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