Sometime back, We wrote an article about a circuit back in Argentina trying to break the code, We gave a thumbs up for the circuit as it was unique and very few circuits in the current calender are of that trim.
We caught up with Efi Freedman, One of the promoters of Velociudad Circuit. Her Husband Eddie Freedman is the CEO of Velociudad Speedcity.
Q1 When do you expect Velociudad to host its first Grand Prix?
The entire Velociudad speed city project is built in accordance with FIA Grade 1 standards, so potentially it will have the possibility to host Formula 1 Races. Since there are so many factors and parties involved, it would not be possible to name a year right now. It is not something that we have any control over.
However, the entire project will be built by 2015-16.
Q2 How's the F1 fan base in Argentina?
The fan base is huge!!! There is great passion and history here. Since Argentines are a very nostalgic nation, a F1 race would be the biggest and most exciting event taking place here in decades.
Q3 What have you learned from recent F1 circuits?
We’ve learned that the fan’s experience is an important factor. We created a new concept which actually was inspired by NASCAR or Indy where the best part of it, is that no matter where you sit you can see most or all of the race (since it's in an oval), so we wanted to see if we can take that and implement it into a non-oval circuit where one can see a big portion of the track and the race at any given location, this applies to the paddock area, tribunes, hotel and clubhouse. We’ve also learned that a racetrack needs a profitable business model to come real. There were lots of announcements for new racetracks and only a few were actually built. And that is, what will be different with Velociudad, we focus on the business between the races to be able to host the big events.
Q4 Who is designing the track? How many people are involved?
Eddie Freedman designed the original concept based on some research but then the current design which is the final one, was done by Populous' lead track designer, Drew MacDonald, who has worked on the new Silverstone track and a new track in India. Also from the design aspect ex-F1 driver Stefan Johansson has consulted our team. Johansson drove the simulator
since the very early stages and suggested some ideas and changes. Though, quite a few people are involved too.
Q5 The modern tracks are quite similar to each other. How will the Velociudad circuit will be?
It will be a lot different. First, the track is located in a very tight area, we have the site consisting of 62 hectares and this includes all the buildings, hotels and retail space other than the track itself.
We will have a unique topography, as mentioned before, where a large section of the track can be seen no matter where you sit. We will also have an easy flow so people will not walk as much as they do in other venues, due to the fact we are a smaller venue, and that we will have some better logistics and shuttle services going all the way to the tribunes and hotel. On another note, many of the recent tracks have been designed by the same architectural film Tilke. We are bringing in fresh, new ideas and working with a very experienced team at Populous. I’m not sure if you read our Velociudad News piece from last month, but in an interview with Stefan Johansson on his thoughts of Velociudad’s Circuit he had said, ““It’s great, I think it’s going to be a really, really cool track. It’s got good and nice curves. It’s got variety, some rhythms- high, medium speeds and some slow speeds overtaking.”
Q6 Most of the modern tracks don't find quite reception among the F1 enthusiasts. Why do u feel so?
I believe it has to do with who designs these new tracks, one of these tracks being the Abu Dhabi YAS Marina. I personally like the design and concept and the hotel, however there is a lack of enthusiasm and history in those places and not many fanatics so the atmosphere is much different if comparing to a place like Silverstone, Moncao, Montreal or Monza.
In Argentina there is great heritage, enthusiasm and much support to see car racing in top categories taking place here, close to Buenos Aires.
The fan zone is huge and even a race like Dakar is very popular and people camp out around the country to see a glimpse of the action.
Q7 Are you with or against the classic F1 tracks?
The heritage of the classic tracks is very important for the product Formula 1. However, safety is a more important factor and not all classic circuits fulfill the highest safety standards. Take a look at Silverstone, they are definitely one of the big classics of the F1 racetracks, but with the redesign from our same architects at Populous, they also meet the most modern standards.
Q8 Most of the modern tracks find some unique way of recovering the money. How do you plan to get back the huge sum of money that you are investing?
We have a unique concept of the track being profitable year round, on a day-to-day basis. We have a hotel that will be operated year round, a convention center, restaurants, shopping area that are open for services every day. One of the most unique things we’ll have is a perfect environment for car manufacturers’ business needs- testing center, track rental, 4x4 off-road park, etc. And if you understand and focus on the client’s needs, as Velociudad does, you will have a profitable business.You will never be able to get a return on investment with racing events alone – especially not with Formula 1.
Q9 How would you plan to promote F1 in Argentina? Do u feel that talent in Argentina has gone down in the last decade or so?
We do not intend to promote F1 until the track is ready to host it, and once the official interest is there. We do not want to be in a situation where an event is committed, but the track is not ready on time. Argentine talent is spread around the world, but there is not enough presence in the F1 category. We aim to change that. Velociudad’s “Center of Excellence” will train young pilots, engineers and mechanics- all to prepare for the Formula 1 level.
Q10 We know you love Indian curry. Which is your favorite Indian Dish?
I love chicken vindaloo, tikka massala and korma, or just any curry that does not have coriander.
Q11 Who is more interested in racing, you or you husband?