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Azerbaijan confirms 2016 slot as Grand Prix of Europe
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Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  25 Jul 2014   |  11:00 am GMT  |  84 comments

Following Wednesday’s announcement that Mexico will return to F1 next year, Azerbaijan this morning revealed that it will join the grand prix calendar in 2016, hosting a new iteration of the European Grand Prix in the country’s capital, Baku.

“I am delighted to officially announce that we have signed a contract to bring Formula One racing to Baku in 2016. Our location at the crossroads of eastern Europe and western Asia is a new frontier for Formula One racing,” said Azerbaijan’s Minister of Youth and Sport, Azad Rahimov.

“Azerbaijan is a modern European country that has established a reputation as a centre of sporting excellence. The deal to bring Formula One racing to Baku is a very significant new chapter in our ongoing success to attract the world’s largest sporting events to our country,” he added.

With Azerbaijan located on the shores of the Caspian Sea, it might seem like stretching a point to brand the event as a European Grand Prix, but the country has been a member of the Council of Europe since 2001 and plays its international football as a member of UEFA. Rather than brand the race as the Grand Prix of Azerbaijan, the choice of the European Grand Prix as a title signifies a desire to more closely align the former Soviet Republic with its western neighbours.

The new race will take place a street circuit in Baku, against a backdrop of the city’s medieval Old City and the Caspian Sea. While the design of the street circuit has yet to be finalised, Rahimov revealed that it is envisaged that Baku’s Azadliq Square will accommodate the race start, main grandstand and pits and that the racetrack will include major roads and landmarks such as Neftchilar Avenue, Government House and Maiden Tower.

Baku has hosted street racing before, with an event known as the City Challenge Baku, featuring GT3-spec cars, taking place in 2012. The FIA GT Championship took over last year with its Baku World Challenge, racing on a new 4.380km circuit (pictured above) around Crystal Hall – the venue built to host the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest – and the National Flag Square. The Baku World Challenge event will form the final round of this year’s Blancpain Sprint Series sportscar race in November.

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1

At least India and Turkey know where they are. Azerbaijan may wish to be associated with Europe, but it isn’t in Europe, it’s in Asia. The usual. F1 claiming to keep out of politics, whilst guzzling down dollars from any nation in need of an expensive PR injection. This is not the way any sport should be run, and it will have consequences in the medium and longer term. Bernie and CVC don’t care, but what are the FIA playing at?

2

I never heard of Azerbaijan until I dug around Google Map and Wikipedia.

With all these gimmicks like double points, DRS etc… there could be a good reason for the introduction of Azerbaijan: land mines, the ability to fire bazookas at your opponent. Think about it, it’s right next to places like Iran where the politics are unstable and there’s always conflicts, the ideal backdrop for such gimmicks!

Heck they might even do what Mario Karts do and introduce the abilities to drop oil, bananas and fire turtle shells. Hang on… they might do that in Japan where the game Mario Karts was created.

3

Ahh huh. Modern European country with a throwback style dictator. Nice work Burnie! F1 continues to slide downhill.

4

There are only 2 reasons I can see for going to Baku, Azerbaijan.

1. It’s an oil rich country.

2. The manufacturers have probably opened plush new dealerships there.

About sums it up doesn’t it?

If F1 was about the racing anymore, we’d be going to circuits like this;

http://www.gtplanet.net/forum/threads/potrero-de-los-funes-circuit.297851/

If I win the euro millions :), I’d be setting up a championship with GP2 similar spec cars, turning the power up on the engines, playing with the aero regs to suit, and having races on circuits like this one around the world. A formula about driver skill, fan entertainment, and great racing, that doesn’t cost a fortune.

Who wouldn’t tune in to watch that?

5

I think it’s unfair that Singapore or China shouldn’t be called the European Grand Prix.

Maybe Australia in the future?

6

We’ll be going around the continent’s next lol :). Asian GP anybody? South American, North American, African? Or how about an ocean?

We did actually have the Pacific Grand Prix years ago at Aida.

7

My big question, what race does Azerbaijan replace on the calendar. I heard doubt over Monza which, I think, would be a big loss. Went for Friday practice 2 years ago and the sense of history and atmosphere is like nothing else.

8

Well at least they should have decent caviar.

9

i watched a round of the WEC. race there earlier this year doing a six hour enduro

and i have to say, WHAT A LOAD OF RUBBISH this track is !!!

an absolute waste of my life that ill never get back!

if you think valencea is boring than you havnt seen anything

though this was probably a slightly different track to what the f1 track will be, it wont be to much different

i couldnt believe it, they ran the cars down a narrow side street between the slummy buildings where all the little old ladys had there washing out hanging over the balconies, it really was not pleasent to see

if this place does get on the calender for real, it will be because bernie needs some more money to cover all the issues he has been going through lately, not because he has passion for the sport.

10

WEC do not race in this country or on this track!

11

I think it’ll ne a great place to go

EAST MEETS WEST NEAR THE CASPIEN SEA.

Besides if Bernie needs a quick change of citizenship well theres Baku & Sochi .

Interpol whats zat 😀

we are Azerbaijani you are Azerbaijani Bernie 😀

Please note James this is tongue and cheque! I mean cheek & no inferences to any ongoing issues 🙂

😀

12

Formula 1 isn’t that the quiet sport they have on the other side of the world?

13

Are you trying to start a game? In one sentence describe F1?

14

We have something fun lined up for the summer break along those lines but more engaging, watch out for it

15

I’ve been to Azerbaijan several times and I can assure any F1 fan who wants to go there will have a lovely time. All the comforts of Europe without any of the prices. Not sure what they’ll manage to do for a track though.

16

But how is this Europe, geographicaly?

17

They’re in the Eurovision Song Contest

18
Carlos Marques

As a rule I don’t watch races in Hermann Tilke-ish circuits. This circuit fits that criteria.

C’mon. How about letting someone else design a circuit for once? Or at least have someone look at why the classics like Silverstone and Monza are so much better than the new circuits? The old circuits are dangerous and/or follow the contour of the land. They don’t feel artificial. The new circuits are flat- in more ways than one.

I wish all the best to Azerbaijan, but I do wish they would go back to Imola. We all have good and bad memories of that place. It may not offer great racing, but it demands the very best of every racer and every corner is a potential accident waiting to happen. It separates the men from the boys, and that’s what we like to see.

19

This actually strikes me as a properly exotic location. For some reason the idea of it is sitting better with me than a lot of other expansion races recently.

Quite frankly, better this than Magny Cours.

20
F1inDeutschland

Moreover, in 2017 the Grand Prix of Africa will be held in Norway, Vladimir Putin will be all 4 stewards, Sepp Blatter will wave the chequered flag (despite having promised not to) and the tickets will be sold exclusively via email by a Nigerian prince… At least we won’t need any post-race debate about why the grandstands were half empty.

21

Great news! Even more empty grand stands! To call it the European Grand Prix is even a bigger joke. Will be exactly the same as India, a country which has no intrest, whatsoever, in Formula One.

22

Well the last race in Valencia in 2012 with the longer drs zone was rather electrifying. So street circuits can be thrilling with lots of overtaking and action. Singapur needs a longer straight

23

Bordering Iran? East of Turkey? European?

Why not use it’s own name?

My understanding of the “European” title was for the 2nd GP in a country that already had one. e.g. Valencia, Brands Hatch, Nurburg, Donington.

24

This is just getting ridiculous, farcical even. F1 has totally lost its way, and it won’t be long before it’s irreversibly ruined.

Very sad indeed.

25

That settles it then. The $400 million circuit in India is gonna just sit there open for the Circus perhaps?

26

I remember being surprised when they announced the circuit was to be built in Delhi. The Indian motorsports scene, such as it is, is completely centered around the south. Both Karthikeyan and Chandok (Vicky and Karun) come from Chennai after all.

That track has always been a burden. Nothing ever took place there other than F1 because no one cared. Pity really.

27

Hey, build this at a cost of $400 million. If you don’t pay me $40M annually to host a race, it’s going to be a wasted $400M.

Would that $400M be better spent on facilities in India to eliminate public defication, recently found to be a significant contributing factor to high child mortality rate there?

How is it Bernie’s fault that some countries have their priorities out of whack? He’s just a sales man selling a product.

28

I do like new tracks and new races but the morals of F1 are gradually putting me off. Money money money, more and more every day.

29

F1 continues to pore over the Human Rights Watch annual report in a race for those countries that get red flagged and shout, ‘ hurrah! We’ve got a new winner! These guys make China look cuddly!’

Yes, yes, I know sport and politics shouldn’t mix but there are teams struggling with sponsors jumping ship each year and humiliating the golden geese is not long term thinking.

30

It always makes me giggle when someone says long term thinking in relation to F1 😉

I’m going to put you on the spot now AuraF1: Considering we already have races in places like Australia and Canada, what’s your pick for a new nice country to host a new F1 race?

31

Good call 🙂

32

new zealand

33

Yep. And when the question was put to the team chiefs at the Press Conference today, there was a resounding SILENCE. These guys just seem to enjoy being screwed by Bernie and CVC (about which, obviously, they couldn’t comment either). Keep re-arranging the deckchairs guys, and the only interesting thing about the band is whether it’ll make 2 or 3 stops.

34

+1

To quote Desmond Tutu:

“If You Are Neutral On Situations Of Injustice, You Have Chosen The Side Of The Oppressor.”

35

I was about to post this when I saw your comment and thought it fit here:

I’m upset about double points, mid-season rule changes, Tilkedromes, etc., etc., etc. The following bothers me more than all F1’s internal issues. I’m quoting Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2014.

“The Azerbaijani government’s poor record on freedom of expression, assembly, and association dramatically deteriorated during the year. The authorities arrested dozens of political activists on bogus charges, imprisoned critical journalists, broke up several peaceful public demonstrations, and adopted legislation that further restricted fundamental freedoms. This crackdown was the backdrop for the October 2013 presidential election, in which incumbent President Ilham Aliyev was re-elected for a third term with 84.5 percent of the vote.”

I passionately love this sport but I don’t know what to think any more.

36

Tears for Fears said it best, it’ a “Mad World”.

There are people who are tasked with protection of human rights. Bernie/FOM/FIA are tasked with giving us F1 cars that look good and sound right, race tracks that provide action, and most importantly double points. If Lewis loses thanks to double points, will you consider it a human rights violation?

37

How narrow-minded. What about the US?

38

An F1 race at the famous wizard prison?

I presume dementors will be the track marshalls?

39

Must be with BE as the head marshal, ya suppose? Always thought this was an imaginary place in ‘Ary Potter’s Wizarding World !!

40

Well, the corruption perceptions index still puts Russia as the most corrupt nation to hold a grand prix, with Azerbaijan slotting into second now, and Mexico storming into third.

That’s something, right?

41

I don’t mind the location and welcome new exciting tracks.

However, street circuits suck (I don’t count Canada as one).

42

Another dull street circuit to avoid watching.

Stands will be packed with corporate for the first race, then three-quarters full for the second, third etc.

What is the typical monthly salary in Azerbaijan?

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