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. Sunday 26 March 2017

  2. 05:34

    Follow the Australian Grand Prix live!

    F1
  3. 05:29

    Latest F1 photos: Sunday in Melbourne

    F1
  4. Williams gets suspended fine over gearbox 05:16

    Williams gets suspended fine over gearbox

    Williams has been handed a €25,000 fine, suspended for the entirety of the season, after failing to inform the FIA of its…

    F1
  5. 05:02

    Starting grid for the Australian Grand Prix

    F1
  6. Ricciardo hit with five-place grid penalty 03:27

    Ricciardo hit with five-place grid penalty

    Daniel Ricciardo has been dealt another blow at his home event in Australia, with Red Bull changing his gearbox after he crashed…

    F1
  7. Pirelli expects one-stop Australia race 03:12

    Pirelli expects one-stop Australia race

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli is expecting a one-stop strategy to emerge as the favoured approach by drivers for the…

    F1
  8. Mercedes braced for 'big fight' with Ferrari 02:44

    Mercedes braced for 'big fight' with Ferrari

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the team is braced for a "big fight" with rival Ferrari ahead of the season-opening Australian…

    F1
  9. Alonso: McLaren 'better than expected' 02:32

    Alonso: McLaren 'better than expected'

    Fernando Alonso says that McLaren-Honda's Australian Grand Prix weekend has gone "better than we'd expected" after pre-season…

    F1
  10. Video of the Day: Formula 1 2017 explained 02:01

    Video of the Day: Formula 1 2017 explained

    Ahead of the season-opener, Lewis Hamilton provides a refresher on what's new in F1 in 2017.

    F1
  11. Saturday 25 March 2017

  12. 18:28

    Latest MotoGP photos: Saturday at Losail

    MotoGP
  13. Viñales, Márquez back qualifying cancellation 18:27

    Viñales, Márquez back qualifying cancellation

    Yamaha's Maverick Viñales and Repsol Honda's Marc Márquez backed the call made by MotoGP officials to cancel all of Saturday's…

    MotoGP
  14. MotoGP cancels qualifying, pole for Viñales 17:23

    MotoGP cancels qualifying, pole for Viñales

    MotoGP has cancelled all of Saturday's action for the floodlit Qatar Grand Prix due to inclement weather conditions at Losail…

    MotoGP
  15. Rossi: Corner entry weakness hurting pace 14:22

    Rossi: Corner entry weakness hurting pace

    Yamaha's Valentino Rossi says he is still suffering from a lack of speed on corner entry after scraping through to Q2 at the…

    MotoGP
  16. 13:12

    Latest F1 photos: Saturday in Melbourne

    F1
  17. Giovinazzi thought F1 call-up was a joke 13:02

    Giovinazzi thought F1 call-up was a joke

    Formula 1 debutant Antonio Giovianzzi says he thought he was being tricked when he received the news that he would be competing…

    F1
  18. Bratches: No shortage of aspiring F1 hosts 12:46

    Bratches: No shortage of aspiring F1 hosts

    New Formula 1 commercial chief Sean Bratches says that he has received a substantial number of enquiries from venues keen to…

    F1
  19. Williams referred to stewards over gearbox 12:31

    Williams referred to stewards over gearbox

    Williams has been referred to the Australian Grand Prix stewards after failing to notify the FIA of its intention to replace the…

    F1
  20. Magnussen rues 'messed up' qualifying runs 11:20

    Magnussen rues 'messed up' qualifying runs

    Haas' Kevin Magnussen admitted he "messed up" his qualifying runs through overdriving as he was knocked out of Q1 at the…

    F1
  21. Ocon eyes first points from 14th place 10:12

    Ocon eyes first points from 14th place

    Esteban Ocon is optimistic that he can make amends for a mistake on his final flying lap in Q2 to compete for points during his…

    F1
  22. Sainz Jr. relieved after Q1, Q2 struggles 10:00

    Sainz Jr. relieved after Q1, Q2 struggles

    Carlos Sainz Jr. says he was relieved to take eighth on the grid for the Australian Grand Prix after struggling with the balance…

    F1
  23. Pérez escapes with reprimand for violation 09:08

    Pérez escapes with reprimand for violation

    Force India's Sergio Pérez has escaped with a reprimand after the stewards deemed that he breached the regulations during…

    F1
  24. Pérez summoned over alleged rule breach 08:43

    Pérez summoned over alleged rule breach

    Sergio Pérez has been summoned by the Australian Grand Prix stewards over an alleged rule breach during Saturday's qualifying…

    F1
  25. Grosjean: Best of rest 'awesome' for Haas 08:29

    Grosjean: Best of rest 'awesome' for Haas

    Romain Grosjean labelled Haas' Australian Grand Prix qualifying result as "awesome" after it finished as the best of the rest…

    F1
  26. Palmer labels Renault car a 'disaster' 08:13

    Palmer labels Renault car a 'disaster'

    Renault driver Jolyon Palmer labelled his car as "awful" and a "disaster" as he finished as the slowest competitor during…

    F1
  27. Ricciardo 'caught by surprise' in Q3 crash 08:07

    Ricciardo 'caught by surprise' in Q3 crash

    Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo says he was "caught by surprise" as he crashed out of qualifying for his home race at the…

    F1
  28. Vettel: Mistakes didn't cost Ferrari pole 07:58

    Vettel: Mistakes didn't cost Ferrari pole

    Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel described himself as "not entirely happy" with his final Q3 effort but does not believe a couple of…

    F1
  29. Hamilton expects 'tight' race from pole 07:45

    Hamilton expects 'tight' race from pole

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says he expects a "tight race" at the Australian Grand Prix after he opened the season with the…

    F1
  30. 07:17

    Australian Grand Prix: Qualifying results

    F1
  31. Hamilton takes pole, Vettel splits Mercedes 07:13

    Hamilton takes pole, Vettel splits Mercedes

    Lewis Hamilton stormed to pole position for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, as Sebastian Vettel put his Ferrari…

    F1
  32. Stroll 'staying calm' despite Q1 exit 06:51

    Stroll 'staying calm' despite Q1 exit

    Williams rookie Lance Stroll insists he will "stay calm" despite enduring a difficult Saturday as he prepares for his Formula 1…

    F1
  33. 05:45

    Follow qualifying for the Australian GP!

    F1
  34. Whiting expects T-wing ban for 2018 04:42

    Whiting expects T-wing ban for 2018

    Formula 1 Race Director Charlie Whiting reckons there is a "strong chance" that the T-wing will be outlawed from the sport's…

    F1
  35. Stroll to get five-place grid drop on debut 04:30

    Stroll to get five-place grid drop on debut

    Lance Stroll will be hit with a five-place grid penalty for the Australian Grand Prix, with Williams mechanics forced to change…

    F1
  36. 04:05

    Australian Grand Prix: Full Practice 3 results

    F1
  37. Vettel puts Ferrari on top in final practice 04:03

    Vettel puts Ferrari on top in final practice

    Sebastian Vettel put Ferrari on top during final practice for the Australian Grand Prix, going half a second quicker than…

    F1
  38. 02:48

    Follow final practice for the Australian GP!

    F1
  39. Register for GPUpdate Manager 2017! 02:31

    Register for GPUpdate Manager 2017!

    Have you ever dreamed of owning a Formula 1 team with your ideal driver pairing and engine? GPUpdate.net readers can now sign up…

    F1
  40. 02:22

    Archive: Giovinazzi on ending Italy's drought

    F1
  41. Giovinazzi to replace Wehrlein in Australia 02:18

    Giovinazzi to replace Wehrlein in Australia

    Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein has been withdrawn from this weekend's season-opening Australian Grand Prix, amid concerns over…

    F1
  42. Video of the Day: Mick on the road - Part 1 01:02

    Video of the Day: Mick on the road - Part 1

    Mick Schumacher stars in a car-com series with Mercedes-Benz as he learns to drive on the road...

    Misc
more news