Exclusive interview with New Jersey chief

Exclusive interview with New Jersey chief

27 August 2013 – With rumours continuing to circulate the paddock about the future of the proposed Grand Prix of America in New Jersey, GPUpdate.net spoke to race organiser Leo Hindery Jr. for an update on the present situation. After the upset of a postponement, hopes of joining the Formula 1 calendar in 2014 remain undeterred.

How has development been progressing for the Grand Prix this year?

Leo Hindery Jr.

We stumbled pretty badly; certainly we had hoped that we would be racing in 2013. We put some fairly high hurdles in front of us, the least of which was that we insisted that it be done only with private capital and no assistance from either the municipalities or the state. It’s something that I believe in strongly, but in a difficult financial market it became clear late last fall, really early in the winter that we would not make 2013.

With a lot of support and frankly more patience than Bernie Ecclestone needed to give us, we had several more months to get it back on-track. We know that with his blessing we now have a 15-year executed sanctioning agreement that will allow us to race some time each June. Were it not for similar support from the Tilke organisation, specifically Peter Wahl and no less from [FIA Race Director] Charlie Whiting, I think I’d be pulling out what little hair I have left!

There are obviously a lot of rumours being spread around the paddock at the moment. Are you confident with the position you currently find yourselves in?

Yeah, we are. We grew such just before [a meeting with media] at the Canadian Grand Prix this year. We didn’t go to Canada lightly and it was shortly before that we executed with FOM a 15-year agreement. And that was critical for us, because we’re not asking for municipal or state support. You can’t raise for a private endeavour without longevity and the sport has a history, from time to time, of giving short-term sanctioning agreements. So when we went up to Canada and said, ‘look, we’re back, we’re comfortable that we’ll be here,’ that was formally with this agreement in hand.

The only obstacles in front of us now are execution, they’re not structural. The course never changed its configuration from the time we first identified it. It’s been clearly and frequently vetted by Charlie and his colleagues on behalf of the teams. The support we’ve gotten early on from [Hermann] Tilke and Peter Wahl has really held things stable. It’s not exactly the budget that we anticipated back in 2011, 2012, but it’s stayed close enough that we’ve now been able to get them to again sign the agreement.

And in terms of the coming months, what will be the major challenges for you?

Nothing right now. I think if we’d have had this conversation a couple of months ago I would have suggested that we hadn’t yet made permanent the paddock and pits. But that’s now substantially along and about two thirds of that construction is behind us. The rest of it is a street course and that hasn’t changed. The permits and the approvals from the various regulatory authorities are all in hand, so I don’t see any impediment other than actual execution. We have 37 vendor contracts for everything from beverage to paving.

What’s good about the course is that half of it is along the river and the other half is across the top of what is called the Palisades, which are these glacial formed cliffs. There’s nobody living in the circumference of the course, and boy has that been a blessing! You contrast it with Singapore and Shanghai. It’s made it much easier because nobody has been inconvenienced and nobody will be inconvenienced by the course. Everybody who lives on the exterior could access his or her home as we’re racing the cars, let alone during this period when we’re doing some construction.

With the arrival of the Circuit of The Americas last year, do you see New Jersey playing a key role in strengthening America's place on the Formula 1 calendar?

I think you have to give credit to São Paulo, Montreal and our two. But in roughly the same time zone you’re going to get four races with prominent television viewing and consistent time frames. All of them are very different and are a lot of fun to visit. If you’re a tourist from any part of the world, particularly Europe, it’s an easy flight over here and you can do Montreal and our race. And then Austin is a fun and funky town with a very different layout. I talked to the guys who run Montreal and Austin, and they feel that it’s a plus and not a negative to have two, three or four in the Americas.

I imagine a youngster such as Alexander Rossi graduating would be a boost...

The one thing we’re obviously missing is that we don’t have a young American driver in the sport. Either Rossi (21) or Derek Daly’s son, Conor (21). I haven’t seen one better than Rossi or Daly yet. It’d be fun if we had two, three or four on the edge.

As a whole, New Jersey holds the potential to be a season highlight, doesn't it?

When Sebastian Vettel drove the course, which was easy to do because it’s pretty well laid out, he said without any prompting from myself or my colleagues that it races like Spa and feels like Monte-Carlo. I think Charlie, Seb and others will tell you that we probably have one of the most entertaining courses. We’ve got 19 turns, 3.2 miles, lots of passing zones and a tremendous elevation change both up and down.

But when you come to these things [Formula 1 events], the race is the last thing you do. You show up in the area ideally several days in advance and enjoy the hospitality. New York is one heck of a fun place to be entertained and to entertain yourself.

Mike Seymour
Twitter: @MikeSeymourF1

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Wednesday 27 August 2014

  2. Vettel gets new race engineer for 2015 15:17

    Vettel gets new race engineer for 2015

    Red Bull has confirmed that Gianpiero Lambiase will become Sebastian Vettel's new race engineer from the 2015 season, after...

    F1
  3. Video: Rosberg's ice bucket challenge 13:30

    Video: Rosberg's ice bucket challenge

    Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg takes the ALS ice bucket challenge.

    F1
  4. Frijns management denies GP2 speculation 11:58

    Frijns management denies GP2 speculation

    The management team behind Robin Frijns has denied that the Dutchman is pondering a GP2 return. According to media...

    F1
  5. Yamaha 'confident' of Silverstone victory 11:15

    Yamaha 'confident' of Silverstone victory

    Yamaha Team Director Massimo Meregalli says he is "confident" that the Japanese manufacturer has what it takes to claim its...

    MotoGP
  6. McLaren admits drivers 'uncomfortable' over futures 10:33

    McLaren admits drivers 'uncomfortable' over futures

    McLaren admits that the uncertainty over its line-up for 2015 and beyond has left Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen feeling...

    F1
  7. Mark Sutton: Story behind the shot - Belgium 09:56

    Mark Sutton: Story behind the shot - Belgium

    Especially for lovers of motorsport photography, GPUpdate.net is this season running a feature series entitled Story behind...

    F1
  8. Renault with 'renewed confidence' for Monza 09:00

    Renault with 'renewed confidence' for Monza

    Renault has said it will go to the Italian Grand Prix next week with "renewed confidence". The French manufacturer took...

    F1
  9. Video of the Day: Wind tunnel guide - Part 7 05:00

    Video of the Day: Wind tunnel guide - Part 7

    Sauber's Head of Aerodynamics, Willem Toet, continues his talk on the science of F1 wind tunnel design.

    F1
  10. Tuesday 26 August 2014

  11. Video: Onboard with Vettel in Sochi 18:05

    Video: Onboard with Vettel in Sochi

    Join Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel as he becomes the first ever Formula 1 driver to do a lap of the Sochi Autodrom, venue for...

    F1
  12. Ecclestone: Greece 'keen' to hold F1 race 17:30

    Ecclestone: Greece 'keen' to hold F1 race

    Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that a grand prix in Greece is still a possibility, even though the...

    F1
  13. FIA will not take action against Rosberg 16:38

    FIA will not take action against Rosberg

    The FIA has no plans to investigate Nico Rosberg despite Lewis Hamilton's claims that German admitted he had deliberately...

    F1
  14. Pedrosa with 'good momentum' for Silverstone 15:30

    Pedrosa with 'good momentum' for Silverstone

    Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa says he will take "good momentum" to Silverstone this weekend for the British Grand...

    MotoGP
  15. 15:18

    Photos: Vettel laps Sochi Grand Prix Circuit

    F1
  16. Verstappen makes Formula 1 test debut 14:32

    Verstappen makes Formula 1 test debut

    Max Verstappen tested a Formula 1 car for the very first time today at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Northamptonshire. The...

    F1
  17. Alonso: Mercedes will struggle to keep peace 13:05

    Alonso: Mercedes will struggle to keep peace

    Fernando Alonso believes Mercedes will find it "difficult" to keep both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton happy this...

    F1
  18. Whitmarsh officially leaves McLaren 12:16

    Whitmarsh officially leaves McLaren

    Martin Whitmarsh has now officially left McLaren, it has been confirmed, with both "agreeing amicably to part...

    F1
  19. Ricciardo 'staying grounded' amid title talk 12:10

    Ricciardo 'staying grounded' amid title talk

    Daniel Ricciardo says he is "staying grounded" and will not get carried away, despite suggestions he might have an outside...

    F1
  20. 11:28

    Photos: Belgian GP in black and white

    F1
  21. Vettel becomes first driver to sample Sochi 10:30

    Vettel becomes first driver to sample Sochi

    Sebastian Vettel has become the first Formula 1 driver to do a full lap of the Sochi Autodrom circuit ahead of the inaugural...

    F1
  22. Winners and Losers at the Belgian Grand Prix 10:00

    Winners and Losers at the Belgian Grand Prix

    Spa-Francorchamps played host to a captivating and controversial race as Daniel Ricciardo claimed his third win of the...

    F1
  23. Button: Shame it is not a cleaner fight 09:35

    Button: Shame it is not a cleaner fight

    McLaren's Jenson Button says it is a "shame" that it is not a "cleaner fight" between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton for...

    F1
  24. Caterham: More updates on way for Monza 09:00

    Caterham: More updates on way for Monza

    Caterham Team Principal Christijan Albers has confirmed that the outfit will have more updates for the Italian Grand Prix...

    F1
  25. Video of the Day: Neuville's big shakedown crash 05:00

    Video of the Day: Neuville's big shakedown crash

    In case you missed it, here is how Thierry Neuville warmed-up for Rallye Deutschland, where he took his - and Hyundai's -...

    WRC
  26. Monday 25 August 2014

  27. Horner: Not Vettel's fault he only finished fifth 18:05

    Horner: Not Vettel's fault he only finished fifth

    Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has defended Sebastian Vettel and has said it was not "his fault" he only finished...

    F1
  28. Lotus still looking for 'pot of good luck' 17:22

    Lotus still looking for 'pot of good luck'

    Federico Gastaldi says that Lotus will "keep looking for that pot of good luck" after more misery in the Belgian Grand...

    F1
  29. Fry: Start procedures need to be improved 16:39

    Fry: Start procedures need to be improved

    Ferrari engineering guru Pat Fry says the team will need to "learn to improve" its procedures in light of Fernando Alonso's...

    F1
  30. Video: Rosberg denies Hamilton claims 15:40

    Video: Rosberg denies Hamilton claims

    Nico Rosberg has disputed claims made by Lewis Hamilton that he admitted to deliberately crashing into him. The German...

    F1
  31. Lotterer thanks Caterham for F1 outing 15:30

    Lotterer thanks Caterham for F1 outing

    André Lotterer has thanked the Caterham F1 team after he got the chance to compete for the squad in Belgium and make his...

    F1
  32. Button enjoys playing 'long game' in Belgium 14:14

    Button enjoys playing 'long game' in Belgium

    Jenson Button says he had "fun" en-route to an eventual sixth place finish in the Belgian Grand Prix. Button started...

    F1
  33. Video: Sonoma IndyCar highlights 13:57

    Video: Sonoma IndyCar highlights

    Scott Dixon wins the penultimate round of the 2014 IndyCar season at Sonoma.

    Indy
  34. Kvyat: This was a good but tough race 13:02

    Kvyat: This was a good but tough race

    Daniil Kvyat enjoyed "a positive weekend" and took his fifth points finish of the season on Sunday in the Belgian Grand...

    F1
  35. Pérez: I achieved the most possible at Spa 12:15

    Pérez: I achieved the most possible at Spa

    Sergio Pérez reckons he achieved the "most that was possible" during the Belgian Grand Prix. The Mexican started down in...

    F1
  36. Mercedes to 'strengthen focus' on Constructors' 11:03

    Mercedes to 'strengthen focus' on Constructors'

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has confirmed the team will "strengthen its focus" on securing the Constructors' Championship now...

    F1
  37. Rosberg: Hamilton clash a 'racing incident' 10:18

    Rosberg: Hamilton clash a 'racing incident'

    Nico Rosberg has insisted the collision with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton during the Belgian Grand Prix was a "racing...

    F1
  38. Vettel: Maybe the racing was a bit too hard 09:46

    Vettel: Maybe the racing was a bit too hard

    Sebastian Vettel has said the racing "sometimes" was "maybe a bit too hard" in the closing stages of the Belgian Grand...

    F1
  39. 06:04

    Latest IndyCar photos: Sunday at Sonoma

    Indy
  40. Dixon outlasts field at Sonoma after leaders falter 06:03

    Dixon outlasts field at Sonoma after leaders falter

    Scott Dixon came from third on the grid to outlast the field in the closing laps to win the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on...

    Indy
  41. Video of the Day: Youngsters on Max promotion 05:00

    Video of the Day: Youngsters on Max promotion

    Fellow young hopefuls share their views on Max Verstappen's Formula 1 promotion with Toro Rosso.

    F1
  42. 03:00

    Championship standings after Belgium

    F1
  43. Sunday 24 August 2014

  44. 18:00

    Latest F1 photos: Sunday at Spa-Francorchamps

    F1
more news