Learn more about the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, F1’s newest race on the streets of Baku. The race place on June 23-25, 2017.
Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic between Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia, is the latest F1 destination with large oil reserves and dubious human rights records (think Russia, UAE and Bahrain). Disgraced former Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatore is said to have helped Bernie Ecclestone sign a deal for the race with the autocratic government of Azerbaijan, who are rumored to be paying around $50m USD per year in sanctioning fees. A ten-year contract was signed in April 2014, right before oil prices began their most recent slide from above $100 USD per barrel (current levels are around $50 USD). The new owners of the Formula 1 Group have not got off on the best foot when it comes to relations with the Baku organizers. New CEO Greg Maffei was quoted as saying that “races in places like Baku in Azerbaijan where they paid us a big race fee but it does nothing to build the long-term brand and health of the business. Our job is to find partners that pay us well but also help us to build the product.”
The Baku City Circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke, who has been responsible for laying out so many of F1’s newest tracks. It’s located right in the heart of the city, close to the main promenade on the Caspian sea. In addition to many long straights that make it the ‘fastest street circuit in the world’, the Baku circuit also includes a very narrow section (turn 18) next to the old city walls. The first race in 2016 was won by Nico Rosberg, who completed his second ‘F1 grand slam’ by also taking pole and fastest lap. Sebastian Vettel finished second for Ferrari and Sergio Perez completed the podium. Lewis Hamilton had ‘power deployment’ issues and could do no better than fifth. The race was one of the least eventful of 2016, with little in the way of passing and just four retirements, all mechanical.
- The inaugural race last year was officially called the Grand Prix of Europe. A race with this title has been held 23 times since 1983, most recently (before Baku) at the Valencia street circuit and the Nürburgring.
- At 6.003km, the Baku City Circuit is the second longest on the current F1 calendar after Spa Francorchamps (7.004km).
- During qualifying for last year’s race, Valtteri Bottas of Williams set an unofficial record for the highest ever speed recorded in an F1 car, 378 km/hr.
- Just 28,000 tickets were made available for the inaugural race in Baku last year. The circuit did not issue official attendance figures for the race, but it’s likely to have drawn the lowest crowd of any Grand Prix in 2016.
Azerbaijan Grand Prix Facts
|Circuit Name||Baku City Circuit|
|Race first held||2016|
|Number of Turns||20|
|Race Distance||51 laps (306.049km)|
|Lap Record||1:46.485, Nico Rosberg (Mercedes, 2016)|
|2016 Results||1st Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:32:52.366|
|2nd Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) + 16.696s|
|3rd Sergio Perez (Force India) +25.241s|
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How to get to Baku for the Azerbaijan Formula 1 Grand Prix, plus advice on getting around in the city. This year’s race takes place on June 23-25, 2017.