Ecclestone considering Azerbaijan F1 race in 2016

2016 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Bernie Ecclestone wants to hold the first Formula One race in Azerbaijan, according to a report in the Daily Mail.

The Mail claims former Benetton and Renault team principal Flavio Briatore is behind the race. Ecclestone said the race promoters want to hold a grand prix as soon as next year. “That may be a bit soon — unless it’s at the end of the season, that’s a possibility,” he said, adding a slot on the 2016 F1 calendar was “more likely”.

Azerbaijan would be new territory for Formula One. The sport has never held a race in nor featured a driver from the country, which lies on the boundary between eastern Europe and western Asia.

The former Soviet state, which gained independence in 1991, held the final round of last year’s FIA GT championship on a tight street circuit in the capital Baku, overlooking the Caspian Sea (see video above). A similar venue is being considered for the F1 race.

Last year Ferrari announced it was opening a car dealership in Baku.

2016 F1 season

Browse all 2016 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

99 comments on “Ecclestone considering Azerbaijan F1 race in 2016”

  1. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
    5th March 2014, 9:15

    Oh come on, this must be a joke surely, even with all the stuff Bernie’s been coming out with lately this is a bit to far,

    1. Whats wrong now?

    2. Whats wrong with this. Sounds great! Would ne much better then 2 rounds in spain with that rubbish valencia circuit

    3. Why is it a joke?

      Here’s the F1 Calendar for 2014.

      1. Australia – U.N Report stated numerous human rights abuses against aboriginal population.

      2. Malaysia – Numerous Human Rights Abuses. Homosexuality illegal. Women held back in society. Death Penalty still enforced.

      3. Bahrain – you’ve probably heard about this one.

      4. China – Numerous Human Rights abuses. Mass Murders. Surveillance state.

      5 – Spain. Amnesty International reports numerous Human Rights abuses and acts of brutality against immigrants. One of the most inherently racist countries in the world.

      6. Monaco – Tax and Banking haven responsible for around 30% of the worlds laundered drug money.

      7. Canada – Can’t really think of much for Canada. A friendly, well behaved lot.

      8. Austria – U.N Human Rights Watch reprimanded Austria for it’s institutional Police brutality. Also largest human trafficking country in Europe.

      9. UK – Found guilty in international and domestic courts of torture and breaking numerous Geneva conventions. Surveillance State.

      10. Germany – Economic Terrorists. Holding small, poor nations to ransom all across Europe to it’s benefit.

      11. Hungary – Criminalised homelessness. Turned away asylum seekers (against international law) and sent them to Ukraine and Belarus.

      12. Belgium – Not much to say about Belgium.

      13. Italy – Corruption runs through every public office. Street Riots lately.

      14. Singapore – Well Behaved.

      15. Japan – STILL lying about the severity of Fukushima to the detriment of the global environment.

      16. Russia – Discrimination against Homosexuals. Recent bullying of Ukraine.

      17. U.S.A – Found guilty of breaking Geneva conventions in international courts. Surveillance State.

      18. Brazil – Abject Poverty. Huge Crime Rates.

      19. Abu Dhabi – Patriarchal society. Guilty of numerous human rights abuses.

      So….If every person that has something to complain about got their way, Our F1 season would be Canada, Belgium, Singapore.

      Hypocrisy Clouds Judgement.

      1. Canada – Can’t really think of much for Canada. A friendly, well behaved lot.

        Yet they’ll still apologise for it.

        1. Oh, sorry guys, didn’t mean to cause trouble about the F1 calendar on here, eh?
          Anyone for some street hockey?

        2. Michael Brown
          5th March 2014, 16:23

          Sorry for Nickelback.
          Sorry for Justin Bieber.
          Sorry for Rob Ford.

          1. LOLOLOLOLOL!!! #COTD

          2. You forgot about Robin Thicke.

          3. Also Alan Thicke and Avril Lavigne.

          4. And Bryan Adams.

          5. And Celine Dion. And getting our 19 year olds drunk.

      2. Yes, but the real question is – will Singapore get double points?

      3. @ukphillie You could write bad things about any country besides you miss interpreted Brazil, which is perhaps even worse than Spain if racism is the subject and worse than Italy in corruption and Canada has issues too but we won’t go that way, it’s society in scope not the countries. It’s hypocrisy to everyone all the time but we don’t mention it in every sentence. I suggest a more specific approach to the matter.

        To be, it’s just an F1 race funded by rich people for rich people that ends up being publicly exposed as F1 is an international show, which in return it is the reason why the rich people trying to make money pay up for the race.

      4. @ukphillie Oh come on, don’t give us this crap. This is comparing apples to oranges.

        1. No, it’s comparing one persons cause to anothers.

          Keep politics out of F1. It’s the arrogance of people such as the comment above that says what I says it nonsense. It’s not nonsense, every single one of those things is important for someone. But because he doesn’t think one thing is as important as another to him, then its the same for everyone.

          Arrogance, self involvement. I say it time and time again.

          My preference is that you all shut up about politics on an F1 blog. If you wont, then I’ll let you know what arrogant hypocrites you are being.

          1. Oh boy here we go again. If the guy running the blog sees fit to discuss politics on occasion as they relate to F1, that’s good enough for me. You can call it one person’s cause against another’s, but there clearly are qualitative yet objectively determinable differences of severity and assignable blame in the various problems you list + the original commenter didn’t even mention politics, you just assumed and pounced.

          2. @ukphillie First of all, you responded to a comment saying it’s a “joke” by listing the political issues in every country that hosts a GP – if anyone is bringing politics into F1, it’s you.

            But that’s just a side remark. What I wanted to say is that this is not as black-and-white as you’re making it: there is a fundamental difference between a nation with “tax and banking haven responsible for around 30% of the worlds laundered drug money” and a situation like in Bahrain.

      5. Singapore – homosexuality illegal
        Canada – yes, we really are that nice, but: we rank among world’s top weapons exporters and, under current government, have become a pariah in terms of environmental commitments, going as far as cutting scientists from going public on findings.
        Belgium – visited once, great people, great vibes, the best beer ever anywhere, by far.

        1. Yeah, Canada has its issues, but all things considered, things are generally good. I didn’t realize we exported weapons to such a degree (do you have a source for this? I’m not wanting to argue, I’m just curious who the other top exporters are if WE are amongst them). Oilsands remain a contentious issue, but as long as the world needs oil, work will continue there…

          Have to agree 100% on Belgium (although I’ve only been to Bruxelles); the beer alone justifies the existence of this beautiful place.

          1. Depending on where you look, Canada ranks somewhere within the top dozen weapons exporters worldwide (I think it depends a lot on how people choose to define ‘Canadian-made’) – and has seriously increased this trade under the Conservatives – surprise, surprise.

        2. Add asbestos exports to that…

      6. As a citizen of a not so democratic nation who was used to live in a much more democratic nation of EU (actually my second citizenship) I’d rather live in Austria, Canada, US, Australia, Italy, Spain, UK or Belgium than in Azerbaijan…

      7. Brilliant work. You should get a State Department contract to knock out some reports. For the United States, you forgot about executions, even outside of Texas.

        1. @dmw Thank you! You can’t forget the death penalty.

          Or our sweet, sweet guns.

      8. Nathan (@il-ferrarista)
        6th March 2014, 4:41


    4. Aside from any human-rights concerns, there’s comically little reason to go to Azerbaijan – the country’s tiny, geographically isolated, and, outside of the (highly concentrated) oil money, poor. There’s not much of a market for either expensive race tickets or the sponsors and advertisers’ products, and that part of the world is well-represented with races in Sochi, Abu Dhabi, and Bahrain.
      But the only things the current leadership of F1 considers is how quickly the track can be built, how flashy the Paddock Club will be, and how much they can get in race fees. Which makes Baku as promising a city as they come.

      1. That seems an accurate description of the situation to me @pelican, thanks.

  2. Well that’s not news I expected to wake up to that’s for sure! But another European race would be nice nonetheless.

    1. So, let’s now race in corrupted kingdoms and countries, as per Bernie.

      The Baku circuit is good/random, but I ain’t sure it has the grade for an F1 race.

      Countries like France can’t even have the chance to host an F1 event: still there is one engine supplier, 3 drivers and from 10 to 20 million viewers in the country.

      I have nothing against Azerbaijan, but I’m fully opposed to another weekend without peopole in the grandstands.
      It’s gonna be a Korea bis.

      1. Paul (@frankjaeger)
        5th March 2014, 10:46

        I always wondered that aswell, how come the calender doesn’t touch France? Surely there’s an ample following

        1. @jeff1s and @frankjaeger Hollande refuses to support one. If Sarkozy was still in office we’d have one for sure by now.

          1. Another silly policy by Flambi then.

        2. France had their chance and put on many bad races. Lets take f1 to the world, not just western europe.

      2. If your talking about corrupt countries, then f1 would only race in a handful of nations.thats a terrible statement you made, and then say you have nothing against this country.

    2. Azerbaijan is about as European as Mars.

      1. You are aware that there is Western Europe, Central Europe and Eastern Europe, right ?
        That all of Europe is not defined by Western Europe ?

        I have spent much time in Azerbaijan, all over the country, both during the war with Armenia in 1994 as well as many followup trips since both there as well as in Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, etc.

        I am not sure if it is ready for a F1 race in Baku. It definitely is an interesting city, great food, nice people and it is generally considered the end of Europe and the beginning of the Orient but I don’t know if the crowds are there to support the race.

        1. Yup. And Eastern Europe ends at Ukraine. East of that? Asia. Geographically, at least.

          I believe the GT Series chose Azerbaijan as their location for a non-European round.

          1. Wrong. Geographically, Europe is bordered by the Ural Mountain Range in the East (deep in Russia, much further away than Ukraine); Caucasus Mts and Bosphorus in the South, which includes the northernmost tip of Azerbaijan.

          2. @einariliyev – 3% of Turkey is technically part of Europe, but you won’t find a single person who thinks Turkey is even remotely European. Hell, ~25% of Russia is considered to be part of Europe, but again, no-one ever thinks of Russia as European.

          3. Nathan (@il-ferrarista)
            6th March 2014, 5:06

            But culturally russia is by definition european, turkey of course less (religion and other things), but even have significant european influences.

            The Istanbul F1 race is certainly an european round, even if it’s held on the other side of Bosphorus.

          4. I didsagree with that view @raceprouk, I think Turkey certainly does have some “Europe” in it. Certainly Istanbul and quite a bit of culturul parts as well, 3% at least :-)

    3. I can’t believe Nazarbayev let it slip past him. I was sure if something like this was announced, Kazakhstan would definitely be first.

    4. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      5th March 2014, 17:46

      @craig-o – The Baku street track is quite possibly the worst race-track ever. Did you watch the FIA GT Series last year? Baku was the season finale, and I’m being completely honest, most of the corners were just painted on with white lines. There was a chicane that everyone simply ignored! It was an abhorrent event that featured less than if it had been staged in a multi-story car park. FIA GT set a precedent in 2013 for going to terrible racetracks, Nogaro, Zolder and the Slovakia Ring to name just a few, but Baku but it in a whole new league!

      1. @william-brierty Oh, I didn’t realise it was quite that bad! Well in that case, perhaps it’s hopefully just going to be another one of Bernie’s strange fantasy GPs that will never happen…

  3. no, please make it stop…

  4. Wasn’t Briatore – someone who asked one driever to crash to make another driver win – banned from F1 for good? Instead I see him in the Ferrari paddock, revered as a God, behind tracks and F1-related organizations… I don’t understand.

    1. The FIA did try to ban him but it was overturned.

  5. Bahahahaha, money talks.

    1. True that. There are countries with a larger f1 fan base than Azerbaijan… but none of them bribed Bernie

  6. Wow. We haven’t even started the 2014 season, Bernie is ready to add the Azerbaijan Slot for the 2016 season already.
    I think I will support this decision to add a new circuit. It will always prove to be a new challenge for the drivers.

    1. The question is: When will Bernie retire? Why is he talking about 2016? Someone tell the guy what time it is!

  7. Korean GP 2.0

    1. It’s going to be nothing like Korean GP. Yeongam was half-built by the time the first grand prix was staged; and Korean govt did not with to support the project monetarily.

      Think Abu Dhabi. Govt in Azerbaijan has a buckload of money (to bribe Bernie and Flavio); and they will do their utmost to impress, because exposure to Europeans is what they love most. Look up Eurovision in Azerbaijan – it was fraught with scandals about corruption, nepotism, etc., but organisation was top-notch and unrivaled by recent contests.

      Besides, Yeongam was in the middle-of-nowhere. Baku is a very large city (by regional standards); city center is fun and beautiful, and to you expats, it’s going to look like a Middle-Eastern Paris. They will never let you near the industrial devastation that is a 15-min ride away.

      1. Thanks, although every word Bernie utters makes me cringe, it is good to hear someone being positive towards this idea. Besides, if corruption and fraud were an issue, what is Bernie doing in F1? Or any of our own politicians in the EU parliament etc…

  8. Not very enthusiastic about this news. First because this will be the second race held in the region between the black sea and the Caspian sea (and let’s be honest, it’s not known as a racing enthusiast region), and secondly because the country is still officially at war with Armenia.

    Regarding the circuit, they can do two things: they can use a street circuit, but the street circuit the GT Series came up with was a joke, with too many chicanes and narrow streets. So they will probably go for option two and build an expensive Tilke track, use it three days per year and abandon it the other 362. It’s the exact same recipe that we have seen time and time again and it just doesn’t work (India being the biggest failure to date). Ecclestone should stop looking for new horizons and fix what he has right now.

    1. build an expensive Tilke track, use it three days per year and abandon it the other 362

      It’s going to be exactly the same as Abu Dhabi.

      About the setting. It may not be a racing-enthusiast region, but it is certainly a racing-enthusiast country. You get street-races on the streets every night; lots of people I personally know watch Formula One – if you ask anyone on the streets, they have no trouble identifying who Alonso or Vettel, or our local favourite Kimi is. Tha grandstands are going to be packed – especially if the seating is not too expensive for us plebs to visit – and the government has shown restraint in ramping up the prices for other international events they held previously. The entire project is going to be a budgetary sinkhole anyways, and the government does not exactly care about economic profit – it’s all about European exposure.

      Az is at war with Armenia to the same extent as Turkey is at war with Cyprus/Greece. It’s a non-issue.

      1. @einariliyev Thanks for your comment. If the grandstand are indeed going to be full, that would be great. But as you say, this will just be another copy-paste track, which would be a shame.

    2. use it three days per year and abandon it the other 362

      Even worse @andae23, there is 366 days in 2016, so it’s 363 :P

      1. @jeff1s Nooooooo! :P

  9. Ok I feel I’m bound to comment on this, as I’m actually from Azerbaijan and previously lived there for some 18 years.

    On one hand, with Bernie and Flavio Briatore ostensibly involved; the deal is going to be as corrupt as any on the Persian Gulf. Expect multibillion venue a-la Yas Marina with fantastic facilities, developed infrastructure, some marina/seaside cityscape background. Do not expect a good track (probably a rather boring Tilkedrome); flat-as-a-car-park (Baku has very little elevation to offer); corrupt politicians and eye-cringing glamour to roam around. Think Monaco without racing tradition.

    On the other hand; well, it may not be a strictly European race, but with unlimited oil budgets, the authorities are going to make sure it feels like one. More so than Istanbul Park. The flights from major European hubs are not long-haul, the tickets can be pretty cheap (I’m sure the gov’t will subsidise national carriers from Europe too – they like nothing better than Western exposure) – you can get a return from London for like 250 GBP.

    The setting is very welcome to tourists; hotels are top-notch (again, think Abu Dhabi), the country is virtually free of street-level crime, and tons of British/American expats live there on permanent basis.

    I do hope that this race also improves the situation with racing drivers’ situation in Azerbaijan. The country genuinely loves racing (they do most of it on the busy streets though); and government will invest in just about anything that will boost their perceivable image. Yet the karting facilities are severely lacking (there were zero available outdoor tracks last time I visited) and most aspiring drivers I know race here in Great Britain.

    Traffic is going to be a nightmare, as getting anywhere in Baku requires a lot of patience, time, and self-restraint.

    Other than that, I’m quite happy to have a “home race” for what it’s worth.

  10. Oh my god no! I’m from Azerbaijan and this is most ridiculous thing I heard today. It will be another dictatorship(and petrol) money going to Bernie Ecclestone to promote a country riddled with corruption and human rights violations . Azerbaijan people are poor in contrast with its leader Ilham Aliyev( who has estimated wealth of $10billion) and this is another example of state money spent on unnecessary thing which no one will watch and wll be dumped after 2 years.( by the way sorry for broken grammar.)

  11. oh please!!! Ive only ever heard of the place on eurovision! Give us a break Bernie

  12. Wow, Azerbaidjan now. Autocratic state with some money, Bernie really is trying very hard to outdo himself. But hey, a president elected with 84% of votes must be great.

    1. F1 hasn’t exactly shied away from staging GP’s with controversial regimes. Hell, there was a race held in Bahrain when people were being shot at in the streets a year earlier.

      1. rob01189 (@)
        5th March 2014, 15:23

        There is still a race in Bahrain now with people still being killed on both sides.

  13. I had a feeling something this was coming. Azerbaijan has big plans (much like the UAE) from what I understand, in think I remember them also planning to build the world’s tallest building, so I suppose it makes sense for Bernie to court them (or vice versa).

  14. Loved that chicane at 11:33, lol!

    Seriously, the GT track does not look up to F1 standards, but perhaps they can do a better job for the F1 track (I dislike line-delineated tracks and the penalties they result in – when a driver goes off-track it should be disadvantageous (concrete wall / grass / gravel, that sort of thing)). However, at the mention of street race I’m not getting massively excited. I was rather looking forward to the New Jersey race, but that hasn’t happened yet. Which brings me to another point: there is a big difference between a race being announced and a race being held. Apart from New Jersey we are also still waiting for Bankok, Mexico, and possibly many others that currently do not spring to mind.

  15. Jeff (@jtcolegrove)
    5th March 2014, 10:29

    Oh boy, a new race in the far away land of whocares?

    So many classic and historic tracks in Europe and the US and we’re stuck spending half the calendar in cities/nations where bernie can squeeze a couple extra pennies out of the local government.

  16. Ecclestone should be considering where to put the soap come 2016.

  17. Yes please, more street races. They provide the best action and the most exciting races. Lots of over-taking and battling for position they really are great!

    …or am I thinking of something else…

  18. Azerbaijan, huh? No driver. No motor racing pedigree. No history. Do they have any circuits? Do they have any national series? Maybe a ladder for home grown talent to climb? An F3 series maybe, touring cars? Karting? Do they have teams? do they contribute to the motorsporting community? make any components?

    I’m guessing for the most part, no.

    Blancpain GT visited the country, first under the guise of the “World Challenge” in 2012 on a street circuit that was essentially a square. They returned at the end of last year to something resembling a modern-day, central Asian AVUS. The chicanes they added just caused chaos, most of the first race was run under yellow flags, and it was generally a crap way to end a great season, with half the teams not even travelling there.

    Bernie. There is no need. Once again, please stop, and go away.

    1. It is interesting that the race which may make way for the motor racing free zone that is Azerbaijan is Germany according to Joe Saward. It’s not like Germany gives F1 a third of its powertrains, the last world champion or 18% of the drivers on the grid or anything…

  19. So, Bernie wants to race in a country that’s still officially at war with Armenia and that, having been part of the Soviet Union, will probably have a region invaded by Russia?

    By the way, shouldn’t FIA and FOM have already cancelled the Sochi GP? Just saying…

  20. 11 reasons why we don’t need another track in another country.

    1) Istanbul Park
    2) Magny Cours
    3) Imohla
    4) Valencia (yeah I liked it)
    5) Watkins Glen
    6) Brands Hatch
    7) Donnington
    8) Estoril
    9) Paul Ricard
    10) Zandvoort
    11) Heusden-Zolder

  21. There aren’t enough ‘N’s and ‘O’s in the world to make enough instances of the word ‘no’.

    I’d sooner F1 drops Silverstone for Lydden Hill than use the Baku street circuit.

    1. sooner rather

    2. Only if they race on the gravelly bits.

  22. With all these races popping up in the news, Bernie should start asking himself what exactly a new race add’s to F1 with an already busy calendar. Circuits are build all over the world, to then host a couple of F1 races and then to be abandoned. It’s a real waste of money, even if F1 isn’t paying for is, which im not sure of.

  23. Send Formula E there first. That should be used to test all these new venues (and stupid rules) then the circuit would be finished and bedded-in before the Grand Prix goes there.

  24. You know that trick Bernie sometimes pulls when he’s in the press for the wrong reasons, so he claims F1 is going to a new location, and everyone goes ballistic and forgets what the original story was? I think he’s doing it to you again. And you’re falling for it… again.

  25. How about a winter race in Alaska with snow chains on? Like Throphee Andros.

  26. Seriously, what’s with this trend to bring the races to countries or locations with freaking zero motorsport tradition, and where nobody wants to go to see them.

  27. I feel very ignorant… I didn´t knew this country at all :(

  28. What about a second South American race in, say, Argentina? Rebuild the Buenos Aires Oscar Galvez autodrome (the No. 15 version) or use Portero de Los Funes? (BA would be the more likely choice of the two)

  29. F1 races of 2017 season:
    1. Bangladesh GP
    2. Nepal GP
    3. Honduras GP
    4. Somalian GP
    5. Kyrgyzstan GP
    6. Greenland GP
    7. Sierra Leone GP
    8. Bolivian GP
    9. Burkina Faso GP
    10. Yemen GP
    11. Haitian GP
    12. Fiji GP
    13. Papua New Guinea GP
    14. Cambodia GP
    15. Madagascar GP
    16. Turkmenistan GP
    17. Lesotho GP
    18. Crimean GP (awarded triple points and the trophy will represent a Putin statue)

    1. Zimbabwe will feel so left out :P

    2. North Korean GP?

  30. Hey, why even build grand stands? Lets get more races in corrupt countries willing to pay max race fees and just send them by pay-per-view. Empty grand stands in countries with no history of, or interest in motor racing?! Thats Bernies future. No more Spa or Nurburgring, no new races in USA, maybe even scrapping Silverstone. Next up; Harare, Zimbabwe. I’m shure President Robert Mugabe can cash up! The future for F1 looks bright…

  31. I don’t like very much street circuits, and those chicanes are just awful. When it is said that a ‘similar venue’ is to be designated, I fear I won’t like it, I prefer fast circuits, like Spa, Suzuka and Monza.

    Besides that I am unsure about whether it is a good idea or not to establish a race in this kind of country where elections are won with a score above 76%. For those who watched the video and spotted the (paid) men with flags, I mean come on. But that is another story.

    1. My bad. Last time it was 88,73 %.

  32. Please no Baku, I would prefer Morocco then Azerbaijan

  33. Bring back French GP instead. Preferably on Paul Richard. And South Africa, Argentina, Portugal and Mexico.

  34. F1 has reached a bit of a turning point, and it needs to decide what it wants to do. As far as I can see, it has two options:
    1) Classic F1 – the push for the best cars and drivers – probably 16-20 of them, racing around the best circuits the world has to offer
    2) “F1 World Series” – lots and lots of cars, racing in lots and lots of rounds. Probably using a GT-esque “Prototype” and “Customer” split, [I’d suspect Maruissia and Caterham to switch to customer cars] such that entry isn’t limited by the number of teams, but by the number of places on the grid. Imagine if we had 35 cars vying for the 24 grid slots. Wouldn’t that make Q3 more interesting?! Introducing drop-scores would also make it more interesting, perhaps only allowing 20 scores to count – I’d expect the big teams to do all the rounds, and maybe those with a smaller budget to do fewer, but still have a chance of doing OK. As to Number of races, how about 36? NASCAR do it(!) – that also means we might get to see more interesting and varied “one-off” tracks.

    Of course, most people on here would prefer option 1, I expect… but option 2 really isn’t that bad… is it?

  35. I don’t like this. We need more back of traditional racetrack.

  36. I’m no doctor, but I know a disease called “senile dementia.” After reading this article, I am convinced that Mr. Ecclestone has it. It would be useful for fórmmula one world thah someone else took his place, before it is too late.

  37. When Bernie tells you something like this it usually means that you should check that you still have your wallet…. ;-P

Comments are closed.