The Azerbaijan Grand Prix will remain on the Formula 1 calendar until at least 2026 with race organisers signing a three-year contract extension.
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Formula 1 has announced a three-year contract extension for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, guaranteeing the popular street circuit’s position on the calendar until at least 2026.
Baku City Circuit first joined the Formula 1 schedule in 2016, when it appeared under the ‘European Grand Prix’ title. In 2017, the event became the ‘Azerbaijan Grand Prix’. It has been run in every season since, except 2020 when the event was cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Growing attendance numbers at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Although it attracts one of the smallest weekend crowds of the entire season, attendance figures continue to grow year-on-year at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Speaking about the new deal, Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali noted the venue’s growth in popularity:
“The Baku City Circuit has become a hugely popular venue for Formula 1. It is an incredible circuit which always delivers huge drama, and has played host to some of the most exciting races in recent memory. We are delighted to extend our relationship with the country of Azerbaijan and look forward to continuing our growth together.”
Though the attendance figure has not yet been announced, the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix is set to the best-attended Baku race on record. Farid Gayibov, Minister of Youth and Sports of Azerbaijan says that fans from over 100 countries are attending this weekend’s event:
“The Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix is a source of great pride for the whole country and will now continue to inspire and excite our fans for a further three years. The past six races have been some of the best and most dramatic in the sport’s long history and we look forward to creating more magical moments for F1 fans at home and abroad over the next three years – starting with this weekend. Moreover, today’s agreement has come during a weekend that sees us hosting a record number of fans from over 100 countries, which only serves to make this moment even more special.”
A large percentage of spectators at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix travel to the race from abroad. The lower than usual local attendance at Baku City Circuit comparative to other races on the calendar can be explained by the fact that tickets are relatively unaffordable for local fans. 3-day grandstand seats cost 67% of the average local monthly wage – much higher than the majority of other races on the schedule.
New Sprint format at 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Designed by Hermann Tilke, the street circuit has proven to be a real challenge for the drivers, with qualifying sessions often red-flagged due to collisions with the barriers. Sunday afternoons are usually equally chaotic, with races often punctuated by multiple Safety Car periods.
The statistics paint a clear picture of how unpredictable racing can be in Baku. There is yet to be a repeat winner of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, while the polesitter has won only two of the six races held at Baku City Circuit to date.
In 2023, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix is the first of six F1 Sprint events. The Baku weekend is the first to feature so-called ‘Sprint Saturday’, with a separate qualifying session – ‘Sprint Shootout’ for Saturday afternoon’s sprint race.