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 20 October 2014

  2. Force India retains Hülkenberg for 2015 10:08

    Force India retains Hülkenberg for 2015

    Force India has confirmed that Nico Hülkenberg will continue to race for the team next season. Hülkenberg, 27, returned t...

    F1
  3. Silverstone, Le Mans back on FR3.5 calendar 09:19

    Silverstone, Le Mans back on FR3.5 calendar

    The World Series by Renault package, which includes Formula Renault 3.5, will return to Silverstone and Le Mans next...

    FR 3.5
  4. Sainz Jr. elated by championship success 07:22

    Sainz Jr. elated by championship success

    Red Bull youngster Carlos Sainz Jr. hailed his "incredible" season after he succeeded Kevin Magnussen as Formula Renault 3.5...

    FR 3.5
  5. Video of the Day: Mercedes celebrates title 05:04

    Video of the Day: Mercedes celebrates title

    Mercedes celebrates its first Formula 1 Constructors' success at its bases in Brackley and Brixworth.

    F1
  6. Sunday 19 October 2014

  7. DTM champion Wittmann gets Toro Rosso test 20:39

    DTM champion Wittmann gets Toro Rosso test

    Marco Wittmann will receive a Formula 1 test with Toro Rosso as his reward from BMW for winning this year's DTM...

    DTM
  8. Verstappen ends F3 season in third place 17:11

    Verstappen ends F3 season in third place

    Future Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen has finished his sole FIA Formula 3 European campaign in third place after losing...

    F1
  9. Kubica: Formula 1 return would be a dream 14:30

    Kubica: Formula 1 return would be a dream

    Robert Kubica says he has not yet given up on the prospect of returning to Formula 1 at some point in the future and will...

    F1
  10. 13:38

    Latest FR3.5 photos: Sunday at Jerez

    FR 3.5
  11. Dominant Rowland wins FR3.5 finale at Jerez 13:37

    Dominant Rowland wins FR3.5 finale at Jerez

    Oliver Rowland claimed victory in the final race of the Formula Renault 3.5 season as he controlled proceedings throughout...

    FR 3.5
  12. 09:20

    Latest MotoGP photos: Sunday at Phillip Island

    MotoGP
  13. Márquez 'not on the limit' before crash 09:19

    Márquez 'not on the limit' before crash

    World Champion Marc Márquez says he was not riding on the limit when he crashed out of the lead in the Australian Grand Prix...

    MotoGP
  14. Rossi wins incident-packed race in Australia 06:50

    Rossi wins incident-packed race in Australia

    Valentino Rossi claimed his second win of the year in an incident-packed Australian Grand Prix after World Champion Marc...

    MotoGP
  15. Video of the Day: Pedrosa on Phillip Island 03:00

    Video of the Day: Pedrosa on Phillip Island

    Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa chose his fondest Phillip Island memory ahead of Sunday's race at the track.

    MotoGP
  16. Saturday 18 October 2014

  17. 13:52

    Latest FR3.5 photos: Saturday at Jerez

    FR 3.5
  18. Stevens wins, Sainz Jr. clinches title 13:51

    Stevens wins, Sainz Jr. clinches title

    Carlos Sainz Jr. clinched the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 championship at the very first corner of the final round in Jerez...

    FR 3.5
  19. Ecclestone: Las Vegas targeting Formula 1 race 09:32

    Ecclestone: Las Vegas targeting Formula 1 race

    Bernie Ecclestone says a Formula 1 race could be held on the streets of Las Vegas in the future. Ecclestone has long seen...

    F1
  20. 07:54

    Latest MotoGP photos: Saturday at Phillip Island

    MotoGP
  21. Márquez flies to pole position in Australia 06:21

    Márquez flies to pole position in Australia

    MotoGP World Champion Marc Márquez claimed pole position for the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island ahead of Ducati...

    MotoGP
  22. Video of the Day: Bottas let loose in FW18 05:07

    Video of the Day: Bottas let loose in FW18

    Williams driver Valtteri Bottas was given the opportunity to drive the FW18, Damon Hill's World Championship-winning car...

    F1
  23. Friday 17 October 2014

  24. Button will only stay in F1 with 'competitive' car 16:13

    Button will only stay in F1 with 'competitive' car

    Jenson Button could move to endurance racing if he fails to land a competitive Formula 1 seat for 2015. Fernando Alonso,...

    F1
  25. Andretti: Vettel can return Ferrari to the front 16:03

    Andretti: Vettel can return Ferrari to the front

    Former F1 World Champion Mario Andretti believes that Sebastian Vettel has what it takes to galvanise Ferrari and end the...

    F1
  26. Status GP takes over Caterham GP2 team 14:23

    Status GP takes over Caterham GP2 team

    Status Grand Prix has acquired the Caterham GP2 outfit from ex-F1 team boss Tony Fernandes. The squad will continue to...

    GP2
  27. Pirelli changes Brazil tyre nomination 12:15

    Pirelli changes Brazil tyre nomination

    Pirelli has altered its tyre nomination for next month's Brazilian Grand Prix, amid fears over safety. After initially...

    F1
  28. Fong, Nissany to test Sauber F1 car 11:36

    Fong, Nissany to test Sauber F1 car

    Adderly Fong and Roy Nissany will test a two-year-old Sauber Formula 1 car in Valencia next week. The team has set aside...

    F1
  29. Video: Räikkönen clinches 2007 title 11:32

    Video: Räikkönen clinches 2007 title

    Kimi Räikkönen celebrates his 35th birthday on Friday. To mark the occasion, look back at the moment the Finn clinched the 2...

    F1
  30. Räikkönen says he could continue into 2016 11:21

    Räikkönen says he could continue into 2016

    Former World Champion Kimi Räikkönen says he will "probably" remain at Ferrari for another two seasons, reaffirming that he i...

    F1
  31. 09:08

    Latest MotoGP photos: Friday at Phillip Island

    MotoGP
  32. Lorenzo fastest at Phillip Island despite fall 09:07

    Lorenzo fastest at Phillip Island despite fall

    Jorge Lorenzo set the standard on the opening day of practice for the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, despite...

    MotoGP
  33. Sainz Jr. will not change approach for finale 07:19

    Sainz Jr. will not change approach for finale

    Carlos Sainz Jr. has vowed to approach this weekend's Formula Renault 3.5 season finale at the Circuito de Jerez as he would...

    FR 3.5
  34. Video of the Day: Button's top four races to win 05:16

    Video of the Day: Button's top four races to win

    McLaren driver Jenson Button names the four races he would most like to win in a single season.

    F1
  35. Thursday 16 October 2014

  36. McLaren plans 'major' late-season upgrade 16:34

    McLaren plans 'major' late-season upgrade

    McLaren is planning to introduce another "major upgrade" package before the end of the season. Having applied a raft of...

    F1
  37. Video: Wolff drives FW36 at Silverstone 13:53

    Video: Wolff drives FW36 at Silverstone

    After some free practice running earlier in the season, Williams development driver Susie Wolff gained more experience at...

    F1
  38. Mercedes to bring back 'Stars & Cars' event 13:51

    Mercedes to bring back 'Stars & Cars' event

    Mercedes-Benz has announced plans to revive its 'Stars & Cars' event after a six-year break. The German manufacturer,...

    F1
  39. New Ferrari boss vows to take risks 11:20

    New Ferrari boss vows to take risks

    Ferrari's new Chairman, Sergio Marchionne, has vowed to take risks to return to the front of the F1 grid. Marchionne, the...

    F1
  40. Ricciardo to demo Formula 1 car in Austin 10:38

    Ricciardo to demo Formula 1 car in Austin

    Daniel Ricciardo will give a Formula 1 demonstration in Austin ahead of the United States Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver...

    F1
  41. Häkkinen: Honda success will take time 10:24

    Häkkinen: Honda success will take time

    Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Mika Häkkinen says it would be a "small miracle" if former team McLaren found itself at...

    F1
  42. Mark Sutton: Story behind the shot - Russia 07:23

    Mark Sutton: Story behind the shot - Russia

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

    F1
  43. Video of the Day: Zanardi in 'Adrenalin' film 05:04

    Video of the Day: Zanardi in 'Adrenalin' film

    Alex Zanardi, a two-time CART Champion and ex-Formula 1 driver, features in the new 'Adrenalin - The BMW Touring Car Story'...

    Misc
  44. Di Montezemolo: Alonso leaving Ferrari 00:17

    Di Montezemolo: Alonso leaving Ferrari

    Fernando Alonso is to leave Ferrari at the end of the current season after five campaigns on board, Luca di Montezemolo, who...

    F1
  45. Wednesday 15 October 2014

  46. 16:14

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
more news