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. Monday 24 November 2014

  2. Hülkenberg: Abu Dhabi a good sign for 2015 13:57

    Hülkenberg: Abu Dhabi a good sign for 2015

    Nico Hülkenberg believes his performance in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is a "good sign" for next year. The Force India...

    F1
  3. Arrivabene to replace Mattiacci as Ferrari boss 12:18

    Arrivabene to replace Mattiacci as Ferrari boss

    Maurizio Arrivabene has been named the new Team Principal of the Ferrari Formula 1 team, replacing Marco Mattiacci, who was...

    F1
  4. Formula 1 world salutes Hamilton 12:10

    Formula 1 world salutes Hamilton

    Lewis Hamilton became a double Formula 1 World Champion after his victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last weekend. GPUpdate...

    F1
  5. Caterham to do Abu Dhabi test with Stevens 11:01

    Caterham to do Abu Dhabi test with Stevens

    Caterham will take part in this week's post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix test at the Yas Marina Circuit, with Will Stevens scheduled...

    F1
  6. Hamilton: This means more than first title 10:23

    Hamilton: This means more than first title

    Lewis Hamilton says the feeling he got after securing the Formula 1 title again in Abu Dhabi means more to him than it did...

    F1
  7. Marciello to make F1 test debut with Ferrari 09:35

    Marciello to make F1 test debut with Ferrari

    Raffaele Marciello will make his Formula 1 test debut with Ferrari during this week's post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix test at the...

    F1
  8. Wolff says Mercedes let Rosberg down 08:35

    Wolff says Mercedes let Rosberg down

    Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff feels the team let Nico Rosberg down "a little bit" in Abu Dhabi after technical issues...

    F1
  9. Video of the Day: Coulthard drives FW36 05:08

    Video of the Day: Coulthard drives FW36

    Ex-Formula 1 driver David Coulthard gets a shock when he trials the 2014 Williams contender at Silverstone.

    F1
  10. Sunday 23 November 2014

  11. 17:54

    Latest F1 photos: Sunday in Abu Dhabi

    F1
  12. Alonso to confirm future plans 'very soon' 17:52

    Alonso to confirm future plans 'very soon'

    Fernando Alonso says he will be able to announce his future plans "very soon", after completing his final race with...

    F1
  13. Stevens pleased to finish debut race 17:26

    Stevens pleased to finish debut race

    Caterham's Will Stevens says he was pleased to achieve his target of finishing his debut Formula 1 race at the Abu Dhabi...

    F1
  14. Vettel: It's been an incredible journey 16:56

    Vettel: It's been an incredible journey

    Sebastian Vettel was left to rue a disappointing end to "an incredible journey" with Red Bull at the Abu Dhabi Grand...

    F1
  15. I haven't finished yet, says Button 16:29

    I haven't finished yet, says Button

    Jenson Button says he did all he could during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to prove that he deserves to remain at McLaren in...

    F1
  16. Massa says 2014 'just the beginning' 15:58

    Massa says 2014 'just the beginning'

    Felipe Massa says the 2014 season is "just the beginning" of a more competitive period for the Williams team. Massa...

    F1
  17. Rosberg: Hamilton deserved to win title 15:37

    Rosberg: Hamilton deserved to win title

    Nico Rosberg says Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton deserved to beat him to the 2014 world title. Hamilton usurped...

    F1
  18. Hamilton hails 'best start' of F1 career 15:21

    Hamilton hails 'best start' of F1 career

    Lewis Hamilton described the start he made at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as "probably the best" of his Formula 1...

    F1
  19. 15:09

    In full: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race result

    F1
  20. Hamilton secures title with Abu Dhabi win 14:49

    Hamilton secures title with Abu Dhabi win

    Lewis Hamilton secured the 2014 Formula 1 title with victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, leading home Williams duo Felipe...

    F1
  21. 12:38

    Follow the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix live!

    F1
  22. 11:10

    Latest GP2 photos: Sunday in Abu Dhabi

    GP2
  23. Coletti takes final GP2 win of 2014 11:09

    Coletti takes final GP2 win of 2014

    Stefano Coletti claimed victory for Racing Engineering in the final round of the GP2 season in Abu Dhabi. Coletti assumed...

    GP2
  24. 10:52

    Revised starting grid for the Abu Dhabi GP

    F1
  25. Red Bull duo to start race from pit lane 10:51

    Red Bull duo to start race from pit lane

    Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo will start Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the pit lane, after...

    F1
  26. FIA confirms drive-through for Grosjean 10:07

    FIA confirms drive-through for Grosjean

    The FIA has confirmed that Romain Grosjean will be forced to take a drive-through penalty within the first three laps of the...

    F1
  27. 09:34

    Latest GP3 photos: Sunday in Abu Dhabi

    GP3
  28. Niederhauser wins season-ending GP3 race 09:33

    Niederhauser wins season-ending GP3 race

    Arden's Patric Niederhauser strolled to victory in the final race of the GP3 season in Abu Dhabi. Niederhauser eased into...

    GP3
  29. Force India to present 2015 livery in Mexico 09:25

    Force India to present 2015 livery in Mexico

    Force India has revealed that it will present its 2015 livery at an event in Mexico at the end of January. It comes after...

    F1
  30. Video of the Day: World record truck jump 05:03

    Video of the Day: World record truck jump

    The Lotus Formula 1 team and partner EMC set a new truck jump world record in spectacular fashion.

    F1
  31. Saturday 22 November 2014

  32. 17:30

    Latest F1 photos: Saturday in Abu Dhabi

    F1
  33. Red Bull drivers excluded from qualifying 17:29

    Red Bull drivers excluded from qualifying

    Red Bull duo Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo have been excluded from qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after...

    F1
  34. Red Bull referred to stewards over front wing 16:48

    Red Bull referred to stewards over front wing

    Red Bull has been referred to the stewards after governing body the FIA declared its front wing illegal at the Abu Dhabi...

    F1
  35. Alonso expects 'uphill struggle' in race 16:20

    Alonso expects 'uphill struggle' in race

    Fernando Alonso says he expects to endure an "uphill struggle" on his final appearance for Ferrari in the Abu Dhabi Grand...

    F1
  36. 15:49

    Latest GP2 photos: Saturday in Abu Dhabi

    GP2
  37. Vandoorne dominates in Abu Dhabi win 15:48

    Vandoorne dominates in Abu Dhabi win

    McLaren youngster Stoffel Vandoorne dominated proceedings to claim his fourth victory of the season in the GP2 Feature Race...

    GP2
  38. Stevens left to rue Turn 17 mistake 15:37

    Stevens left to rue Turn 17 mistake

    Will Stevens was left to ponder what might have been after an error tarnished his final lap in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix...

    F1
  39. Bottas: Beating Ferrari remains the goal 15:22

    Bottas: Beating Ferrari remains the goal

    Valtteri Bottas says securing third in the Constructors' standings, ahead of Ferrari, remains Williams' target at the Abu...

    F1
  40. Force India confirms 'multi-year' Pérez deal 15:06

    Force India confirms 'multi-year' Pérez deal

    Force India has confirmed that Sergio Pérez will remain with the team next season and beyond, after the Mexican signed a new...

    F1
  41. Hamilton: I'm still there for the fight 14:51

    Hamilton: I'm still there for the fight

    Lewis Hamilton says he is pleased to be "there for the fight" after qualifying second for the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand...

    F1
  42. Rosberg: Pole just a small step towards title 14:38

    Rosberg: Pole just a small step towards title

    Nico Rosberg says pole position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is just a "small step" towards his ultimate goal of claiming...

    F1
  43. 14:08

    In full: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying results

    F1
more news