F1 champ races through Grand Prix test run in Weehawken, West New York Screeching tires and burning rubber marked the Hudson County waterfront today, when the defending Formula One world champion did doughnuts on local streets that may host the Grand Prix of America next year.
Sebastian Vettel in Weehawken NJ on the edge of the Hudson River overlooking Manhattan
"I think this place is just exceptional," said Sebastian Vettel, auto racing’s 24-year-old German superstar, later during a news conference in Weehawken to promote the race. He favorably compared the Hudson County course to that in Monaco, home of the most famous of all Formula One races.
Leo Hindery Jr., the former endurance racer and YES network head who is organizing the grand prix, said he expected the London-based Formula One organization to officially designate the race as part of its 2013 international calendar sometime "early next month."
"The intention is to follow the Canadian," said Hindery, referring to Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, which is run every year in June.
There are 20 races on the 2012 Formula One calendar, including the United States Grand Prix, scheduled for this November in Austin, Tex. The Texas race will be the first U.S. Formula One contest since the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted the United States Grand Prix from 2000 to 2007.
Formula One left the United States after the Indianapolis race’s financially ailing local sponsors could not come to terms with F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone. America’s IndyCar racing resembles Formula One, but is a separate, less technologically advanced class.
"I think to have a true (Formula One) world championship, you need to be in America," said David Coulthard, a former F1 driver who is now a BBC commentator and Red Bull Racing team consultant.
Coulthard hosted today’s media event, sponsored by Red Bull. The event was highlighted by exhibition laps he and Vettel took around the race’s 3.2-mile circuit, with reporters riding shotgun, in a pair of black Infinity IPL G coupes.
The course, running through both Weehawken and West New York, includes stretches of River Road past the Port Imperial ferry terminal, where the race garage and pit area are now under construction, and part of Boulevard East atop the Palisades.
The roads haven’t been properly surfaced yet for F1 race speeds of more than 200 mph, and the two drivers barely broke 80 mph. Still, Vettel and Coulthard left plenty of rubber on the pavement, entertaining race fans who got wind of the event via Formula One blogs.
Noting its waterfront setting, varied elevation, and steep, winding city streets, Vettel likened the New Jersey course to the famous Circuit de Monaco, home to Formula One’s most storied grand prix.
"Certainly the up and down, the changing elevation, is something we enjoy," Vettel said of himself and fellow drivers.
"Monaco is very special for us, it has a lot of history, etcetera. But I think this race is going to be very, very great, and very soon will be one of the races that every driver wants to win.
"As I said, I’m really pleased to be here today, but I’m really looking forward to next year, to jump in the car and see how it feels." Star Ledger (Buy race tickets)
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