He has answers to some, but by no means all...
American Conor Daly recently returned to the States from Europe to attend the final IndyCar race in Fontana, California. This has been a tough season in GP2 with many highs and lows. As is often the case in this profession, the future holds many unanswered questions and yet much promise. Conor took some time out of his schedule to address some questions that are on the minds of some of his fans. We hope you take a few moments and enjoy his candid replies.
1. You have raced GP2 this season but your career hit a road block recently when you were replaced for Monza - What happened?
Unfortunately, the team nor I could come up with the sponsorship requirements to continue as is. It's a real shame but we can only look ahead to what's next.
2. Might you be finished in Europe this season or might you do Russia and Abu Dhabi?
I don't know exactly what will happen yet. I still don't have the necessary funding for anything so until we bring more partners to the table I will be focusing on 2015. The team did however get me a visa for Russia.
3. You mentioned several times this season what a tough year this has been for you. What has been so tough about this year?
The toughest part has been a combination of things. A lot of the guys racing in GP2 have been there for 2-5 years and that experience is huge with the race weekends being so short. We have gone into every weekend too far away from what we need, car balance wise. As a rookie with no testing during the season and one practice session it provides a steep hill to climb going into qualifying but by the end of the race weekend we end up doing 2nd or 3rd fastest laps of the race and passing a lot of cars. Also, because the field is so incredibly competitive, arguably the most competitive field time wise in the world, every hundredth of a second counts. In addition, this year we struggled with an engine that was extremely sub-par. Unfortunately we couldn't do anything about it because of the position we were in budget wise.
4. What has been your best race this year?
The best moment I think was Silverstone, Race 1, where I went from 21st on the grid to 10th on Lap 1. I enjoy taking advantage of lap one situations and starts. The best race overall though I think was Budapest, Race 2, where we had our best finish of the season - 7th. Fighting with the Race 1 winner was good to show and again, another strong performance by the end of the weekend.
5. If you look back on the season of GP2, what are you most disappointed with and most pleased with?
I suppose I would be disappointed that we were not able to get the qualifying tires to work in their critical window. I'm probably most pleased that my starts were great. I passed something like 64 cars in the races, which I think was more than any other driver, and my finishing record was really good. At least I did plenty of good, hard race miles.
6. Why is the European competition level considered higher than in the US? Do you feel it's that much different than the competition level in the US?
It's more competitive because there are 26 guys from all over the world who have been in the sport for several years aiming to be in F1. We race on the F1 weekends in front of F1 crowds demanding the absolute best performance every time on track. Considering we only have four sessions a weekend, this is the best possible place to learn and develop as a driver aiming to be at the top.
7. You are 22 years old. Looking at your career and the choices you've made thus far, are you where you want to be? Why or why not?
Part of me wonders what would have happened if I didn't leave while leading the Indy Lights Championship in 2011. However, I look back at the experience I've gained over the last four years, through the good times and bad, and I know I'm a much better driver after going through it. I want to be a professional and it's a tough job to accomplish but I have to think at the moment there are not many drivers with the experience that I now have looking to get into IndyCar.
8. What do you find most frustrating about the GP2 Series?
There are some things I shouldn't say to be truly honest, but there are a lot of frustrations with the Series. The tires make it an extremely difficult environment because they are so finicky. For our team at least, it has been difficult to replicate the optimum performance 'feel' for the one magic lap in qualifying. They have such a small window of operation and they last so few laps it becomes massively difficult to find actual consistency or improvement over a session. It's also a shame we are pretty much locked out of the F1 paddock along with the rest of the world. It would be nice to have a bit more interaction with all the paying fans who come to the races.
9. There is a lot of talk right now about Gene Haas and his new American F1 Team. Have you had any discussions with Gene Haas?
We have had several different talks with the people involved but it's still in the very early stages. Too far out to comment really.
10. You've spent a lot of time in the IndyCar paddocks this year when you aren't busy racing in Europe - Why?
I have a goal to make it as a professional in motorsports and I think right now the best place to accomplish that goal is IndyCar.
11. It appears that you have had much more direct involvement with your own management this year. Has that helped you understand the business end of the racing world more?
It has been a huge challenge but I've managed to do the majority of a GP2 season which is the highest level you can get to before you get in F1, so I feel pretty happy about that. I still have a lot to learn and a lot to do because I obviously wasn't able to raise the money I needed to finish the season, but I'm making progress.
12. Tell us your thoughts on F1 this year.
It's been a shame to see the shocking and beautiful engine sound go away this year. Mercedes has been extremely dominant but I think (Daniel) Ricciardo has been the star of the season in the Red Bull!
13. As this season starts to wind down and you have time to reflect and continue to pursue your career, have your goals changed?
My goals have not changed. I want to be a professional race car driver and I want to do whatever is necessary to accomplish that goal.
14. You raced at the Daytona 24 Hours earlier this year. Might we see you in more sports car races in the future?
I'm open for any and all races. I would love to do more sports car races and even NASCAR races if I got the opportunity.
15. We often see you Tweet about your travel experiences, mostly having to do with air travel drama. Do these things really happen to you?
It's all legit. I couldn't possibly make up these things! It never ceases to amaze me what will happen next.
16. Because everyone has an opinion on everything and with social media at everyone's disposal, there is really nowhere to hide. You are very active on the social media sites. Do you ever find it hard to take some of the things that are directed at you that may not be so nice?
I am who I am. If someone has a problem with it, that's a shame, but I don't get too much negativity on social media. I enjoy interacting with fans and people from around the world.
17. You have been granted three wishes . . .what would they be?
Wish 1 - I wish I could be a professional race car driver for many years without having to worry about sponsorship, just pure driving. Wish 2 - I wish I had a TV show like Nitro Circus. Wish 3 - I wish I could have an extremely large car collection in the future with a race track in my backyard.