Baku City Circuit, 2016

New pictures reveal Baku’s incredibly tight turn nine

2016 European Grand Prix

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The first pictures of the new Baku City Circuit since the majority of construction work was finished reveals just how narrow sections of the circuit will be.

Baku City Circuit, 2016
Baku City Circuit, 2016
The sequence of corners from turn eight to twelve around the Qosha gate pictured above will measure as little as 7.6 metres across. This will make it one of the tightest areas on the F1 calendar, along with Singapore’s Andersen bridge and sections of the Monaco street circuit.

FIA Formula One race director and safety delegate Charlie Whiting inspected the work at the track. Organisers said 95% of the work regarding the installation of safety barriers has been completed with the first day of practice for the race just ten days away.

“I was very encouraged by the huge amount of work that has been done since my last visit,” said Whiting. “I’m pleasantly surprised to see just how much of the circuit is complete.”

“We spent four or five hours walking around the track examining every bit of it. In general, I must say that the standards of the circuit built so far are absolutely superb and personally I am getting quite excited about the idea of coming here to race in a week’s time.”

The surrounding road network will be entirely closed between June 14th and 16th in order for final preparations to take place ahead of the race weekend.

Baku race attracts criticism

Baku City Circuit, 2016
Baku City Circuit, 2016
Meanwhile the organisation Sport For Rights held a media briefing in London today to draw attention to the Azerbaijan government’s use of sporting events such as F1 to deflect attention from corruption and human rights abuses in the country.

“This is the first time that Azerbaijan will hold the F1 grand prix, however, this oil- and gas-rich state has played host to other flagship sport and cultural events, including the inaugural European Olympic Games in 2015, and the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012,” the organisation said in a statement.

“These events form part of an elaborate public relations campaign waged by the Azerbaijani government, seeking to portray itself as a democratic country, and a good prospect for foreign investment.”

“Accompanied by a policy of wooing European parliamentarians and officials, President Ilham Aliyev’s autocratic regime hopes to use such events to hide the country’s appalling human rights record and divert attention from its on-going crackdown against civil society and independent media,” it added.

Baku City Circuit track map
Baku City Circuit track map

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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...

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  • 86 comments on “New pictures reveal Baku’s incredibly tight turn nine”

    1. That first pic looks like a driveway not a racetrack.

      1. It looks more like 3 than 7.6 meters.

        I suspect the photography isn’t representative.

        1. For those used to work with metres, it does look as wide as they claim it is. Now the issue is after the security measures are put in place how much space is there?

          1. Just doing a little mental math. An F1 car is about 5meters long, so if someone goes sideways that only leaves 1.6meters left for a 1.8meter car to try to get by. I hope they have a crane ready there.

            1. I should have shown my work and used a calculator….. Still, might be a red flag blocked track spot.

            2. @motor even with the calculation error it’s still 2.7m, which only leaves 0.9m spare. Suppose the car were to be 1m away from the barrier which it hit, that’s not enough space to fit a car through. Would certainly be an interesting scenario.

            3. Well, this is what it used to look like:
              http://wtf1.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Baku.jpg
              https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CWrNnmUXAAEd-tX.jpg

              Since the building probably did not move at all, and the sidewalk is still partially used for some concrete barriers, it is seriously small from each angle.

      2. What I find the most dangerous about this turn is the funnelling effect, a wide track is suddently (due to speed of the cars) blending into a tight pitlane wide track.

        I think most of the aggresive drivers like Hamilton, Kvyat, Max and Perez are going to go all out as they approach this turn and try to chicken out the other driver.

        Hope the drivers act mature and don’t cause any incidents.

    2. Azerbaijan, A European circuit?

      1. The Luxembourg Grand Prix was not in Luxembourg, it was in Germany, so why not have the European Grand prix not in Europe?

      2. Yes , Azerbaidjan have a part of the country technicaly in Europe .

      3. Apparently the person to blame is Herodotus from the 5th century BC, though the boundary was shifted to the Don river (considerably to the west) 200 years later. Since F1 is quite conservative it hasn’t adopted this new-fangled Hellenistic nonsense yet.

      4. Well, a few weeks ago AUSTRALIA almost won the European Song Contest.

        In a way the rest of the world is part of Europe I guess.

      5. Definitely Western Asia. Never has been, nor could ever be considered
        to be even remotely part of Europe. It’s very clear that whatever labels
        deeply corrupt and thoroughly undemocratic regime’s wish to acquire
        to shore up their entirely bogus claims to being part civilised Western
        culture, a certain Mr Bernard Charles Ecclestone has told them, in effect
        ……’whatever you wish to acquire of westernised legitimacy is yours for
        the asking, with no awkward questions asked, and our complete disregard
        of any of your uncivilised practices…provided, of course, that you supply in
        full the very large financial lubrication we require to enable ourselves
        ( CVC Capital Partners ) to enable us to employ our highly selective memory
        installation. This system allows us to paint all black scenarios as pure dazzling
        white. See all negatives in a positive light. To state quite seriously that the
        Moon really is made of cream cheese.’

        And anyway, BCE justs loves dictators. They really turn him on !

    3. The picture looks sooo photoshoped. Like the tower was just cut in half.

      1. Agreed, but it’s not photoshopped: Picture, Google Maps

      2. Fudge Ahmed (@)
        8th June 2016, 11:13

        Prompted a google search myself, but yes that’s how the tower’s are designed with a straight sheer back wall.

    4. President Ilham Aliyev’s autocratic regime hopes to use such events to hide the country’s appalling human rights record and divert attention from its on-going crackdown against civil society and independent media

      Then they’ve made a strategic error.

      Countries can hide their human rights record if they keep quiet and out of the way. They can ignore criticism if they are big enough and powerful enough.

      But put a country like Azerbaijan (or Bahrain) into public focus and you make stories of human rights abuses more newsworthy. I, for instance, had no idea about the country before they popped up on the F1 calendar. Now they are in my mind, and I have found out they are not a very nice country (speaking of the government, I’m sure most of the people are lovely).

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        7th June 2016, 15:08

        @drmouse – I’ve written some papers on authoritarian political strategies, and I must disagree.

        Generally, human rights abuses are best hidden in plain sight, as in China, or behind a barrel of oil, as with perhaps the most totalitarian state on earth: Saudi Arabia. Historically, political leaders have used events like these to cultivate a kind of political fraternity with the Western elites. For instance, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain is an annual attendee at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, and Salman or Saudi Arabia underwent spinal surgery in the US last year at the hands of one of the finest spinal surgeons in the world; I doubt Putin will be getting the same service any time soon. The “little voices” like the media and various pressure groups really don’t matter when events of this nature offer the chance for dictators to mingle with the Western elite.

        It is remarkable how forgiving the West can be when confronted with a dictator with an interest in horses or motor-racing…

        1. If the front row was Perez and Maldonado the pack would never make it past turn three on lap one.

        2. “Accompanied by a policy of wooing European parliamentarians and officials, President Ilham Aliyev’s autocratic regime hopes to use such events to hide the country’s appalling human rights record and divert attention from its on-going crackdown against civil society and independent media”. Typical of activists, they have grossly exaggerated for effect, it’s a characteristic of such pressure groups.

          As far as I can determine, the human rights abuses in Azerbaijan amount to an improbably high number of opposition politicians, activists and journos getting jail time. How much is justified imprisonment is anyone’s guess, probably not much, but they have at least done something to warrant attention from the government.

          A swift breeze through the human rights watch website will give a flavour of who are the big players in HR abuses and no surprise, Azerbaijan are not top of list. Go through the GP calendar and educate yourselves at the nations who have the cheek to complain about a list of jailed people still short enough to name all those wronged by the Azerbaijan government.

          https://www.hrw.org/

          Guantanamo Bay anyone? Seems most nations have their list of people they’d rather lock up than take the chance. Well, perhaps not everyone, check out Japan, it’s all nice and cuddly there apparently

        3. I love it when Brits and Americans and others that believe in “The Great Shining West” get all hipocritical. Azerbaijan a human rights violator, Bahrain the same, and all wrapped up in “oil and gas rich” strange almost jealous tones.

          Hey, numnutz, has Azerbaijan, or Bahrain ever came through and dropped cluster bombs on a village of innocent people?? Ummm, no. But the USA and the UK do it daily in Syria and Iraq. So take your human rights and shove it up your backsides.

          1. Nice…

            We call it the ‘war on terror for the preservation of the free world’ and therefor don’t call it HR abuse when holding and torturing people without
            a propper trial (or an legal status whatsoever) while bombing countries as we please and strangling other’s by taking all their resources in exchange for ‘re-financing their debts’ we put them in in the first place.

            All that after having slaughtered, occupied and robbed most the planet for the best part of 4 centuries… not to mention the human trafficing, enslavent and mass genocide of indiginous people everywhere (happy thanks giving btw) And given all that we still have the odacity to point our finger at other’s. Shees

            But hey, at least we can pretend all that never happened and focus on what really matters: Will Jenson Button drive for Williams next year or not?

            Cheers :)

          2. I’d really like to see Ferrari win a race soon, preferably Kimi. Though I do like Sebastian. Really either one would be good. I’m hoping they can have a good race in the Canadian Grand Prix.

          3. So when other countries also do wrong it makes it right for Azerbaijan….yeah right.

          4. Britain does not have any cluster bombs to drop….. we got rid of them a long time ago. Just to put the facts straight….

          5. William Jones
            8th June 2016, 10:19

            Hey,

            I’m all for strong criticism of the UK, USA et al, but there’s nothing wrong with human rights – the world would be a better place if all countries, the west included could actually stick to them.

          6. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
            8th June 2016, 10:52

            @ibrahim Nobody’s debating whether the West can justify every single one of the decisions made in the name of some inferred liberal project – there’s only six billion years before the sun dies…

            …also, just because other countries don’t have a perfect political track record, does that justify documented human rights abuses in Azerbaijan?

            The original question was “Is Azerbaijan using the Grand Prix to veil human rights abuses, and if so, is there precedent for such devices?”. On the basis of some work I have done, and the views of a broader range of academic literature, I feel there is. Azerbaijan is seeking a place on the global stage through foreign investment, and typically states only attain global status through fealty to the Western, Russian or Chinese political blocs. A Grand Prix is the significant first step in Azerbaijan’s creation of a colloquial Western association.

            1. I’m not saying Azerbeidzjan is not doing anything wrong in terms of HR nor that it is ok because other countries do/did it too. That would be rediculous

              What I am saying is that its increadibly petronizing and hypocrite for the west to claim the role as the world’s race stewards, to stay in the parlence of our mutual hobby.

              We as the West (Im Dutch btw) are petronizing other’s by calling them ‘developing’ countries and by assuming our (capitalist) culture and our worldviews are superior, while in truth we have always brought death and destruction everywhere we went, leaving behind raped cultures in poverty, now having to use our systems and views they didnt ask for the first place. From there we ‘help’ developing (read get all their resources for next to nothing while keeping the locale elite rich and in power for as long as it suits us).

              Cant you feel the terrible misplaced sence of selfawareness and shameless sence of suprioty when we say stuff like ‘bringing democracy and economic growth to the developing world’?!!

              All I am saying is that we as the west could do with A LOT more selfreflection and humility that should come with that.

              Also, I just really want JB to drive for Williams next year!

      2. @drmouse I’d hope to see more Ilhams, at least someone’s discussing human rights, it’s a paradox that somebody is able to hide something everyone knows about, there are far more well known nations, western nations as such that do successfully hide their shame, starting in europe just take a closer look at the so called “PIIGS” (it’s an acronym).
        I don’t care if it is europe, I don’t care if it is ex-USSR, I do think the people of this country should know who’s paying for this, anyhow I hope the race is a success.

    5. Since no driver knows the track yet, the race might become a crash party.

      1. Turn 1 looks like a crash waiting to happen. I suppose it may depend on how far it is from the start line to that first corner. If it is long like Sochi, then oh dear!

        1. This looks like a disaster to happen on lap 1. Maybe start behind the safety car or it will end in tears. This is F1 not needle point.

        2. Turn 1 here is massive compared to turn 1 in Monaco.

        3. It appears to be a short run going into turn 1 looking at where the pit lane is.

    6. The circuit itself looks pretty exciting. Would have watched the race if the weekend wasn’t coinciding with Le Mans.

      Regarding the human rights situation: I’m happy they are drawing attention to this, because it is a very big issue. In terms of civil liberties, political rights and freedom of the press, Azerbaijan has a very bad track record. It’s very disappointing to see the Formula One Group, who have a “Statement of Commitment to Respect for Human Rights” in their legal notices, completely disregard their responsibilities. Honestly, I’m so tired of talking about political situations in F1. Every year we go to Bahrain turning a blind eye to their situation, we have to sit through the annual Putin show and now we can add Azerbaijan to that list too. I really don’t want to know what’s next.

      1. @andae23 It is the worst thing about being an F1 fan.

        1. Well, here in Valencia, Bernie conditioned the race to a victory of one of the political choices in the local elections. His choice won, and we had the race. Then in the next election his choice lost, and the new government ended the contract, of which, although I’m a big fan of F1, I’m glad.

          The circuit was ugly, poorly designed and boring. The organization was very poor, the track don’t showed the city, and the choice of date, completely bad (in August we have 35-40 ° C every day, and there was no shadow spaces on the entire circuit). It was a complete waste of public money, while 50% of children of this city are studying in prefabricated classrooms without air conditioning or heating, because “no public money for this”.

          Of course, the track now is rotting into oblivion. Since the last race, has been done no maintenance, and no money for conservation, or use is intended. The housing area that was to be built around is deserted, with some half-built buildings, completely abandoned. A bridge over the river was built to improve access to the circuit (1.5 million €) and now the bridge is broken, abandoned and unused because the whole area is closed to the public and is forbidden to pass. Nevertheless, groups of people in need have been commissioned to steal all the copper cable installations possible without any action taken to prevent it.

          I wanted the F1 to visit my country and my city, but not in this conditions.

          If this happens in Europe … imagine how it can be in a place like Azerbaijan or Bahrain.

        2. @andae23 Add Abu Dhabi to the list. I’m tired too, but I cannot forget about all the things happening somewhere outside those circuits.

          @willwood I agree, the second is reading Mr. E.’s deep thoughs.

      2. @andae23 “Bernie, Pyongyang is on line 1. Something about they found Kim’s long lost fortune!”

      3. Totally agree. I suppose this is what will happen when the sport is controlled by a man who condones the actions of people like Putin and the
        Azerbaijan/Bahrain governments.

      4. Don’t forget the biggest human rights abuser on the planet the good ole US of A.

        1. Australia is not squeaky clean either in relation to HR abuses. Sadly, not many countries are.

          1. I cant agree more, I live in Australia, and what I see is the native people of this country being treated worse then refugees – and their land is being ripped up for corporations to make money in the name of “stimulating the economy”. how come f1 race fans are not up in arms about Australia’s human rights record every time we have the Melbourne GP????? people just like to just on the bandwagon with bashing. let this Country have their GP, and if you care about human rights, go do something pro-active about it!

      5. The right part made me fall afsleep when I watched that F3 demo. I think they should’ve just kept the left part. Probably a bit heavy for the drivers, that.

    7. Omar R (@omarr-pepper)
      7th June 2016, 15:02

      2 cars touching in that turn and we will need Red Flag. How on Earth would they retire the debris otherwise?

      1. Yeah it looks pretty tight but I think most drivers will go into monaco mode as they approach that corner lining up one behind the other.

        If someone tries a torpedo as they approach it then yes it is going to be absolutely dangerous.

        And yes red flag for sure if something happens over there.

    8. Unbelievable, hundreds of beautiful tracks around the world and they are racing on street circuits like this. This is looking for trouble!

      1. Money, money, money then lastly how does the track look. No way around this.

      2. this track looks beautiful

    9. Person 1: I want innovative idea for a track.
      Person 2: What about a Square and a Pentagon attached by line?
      Person 1: Genius.

      1. Straights and hairpins is what a new track would be anyway.

    10. The Tower is actually a half tower between two crenellated straight lower walls. So nothing was cut or photoshopped.

      Baku like so many things in the World are hidden if only to present Europe as the epitome of civilisation.

      Is it because Azeris are ethnically iranians and also shia muslims?

      But certainly, this circuit will be unforgiving and exciting.

    11. Somehow I just don’t feel good about this circuit. Really hoping nothing drastic happens.

      Plus I agree with @Arrang – the picture does look photoshopped. Look at the left side of that tower! I wonder why they had to do that.

      1. Because the tower is not round, inside of the walls is just a straight line, It may look wierd, but that’s the real tower

    12. That super tight bit kinda looks cool, but unfortunately I suspect it will force a compulsory single file much like that sucky old chicane at Singapore and result in an elongating of the pack.

      Plus… A country using “F1 to deflect attention from corruption and human rights abuses” could be applied to so many other places this circus has visited over the years…

      1. Including all the western countries currently on the calendar.

        But who cares? This is F1.

        1. I don’t think all western countries use f1 to deflect attention to human rights abuses. They don’t need it for that

    13. Dear Azerbaijan,

      You’ll never be European.

      1. It’s a lot more European than good portions of Paris, London and Berlin. I was there last summer and was kind of tired of Europe by that point and this was to me Europe after spending the last 20 years in Europe.

      2. It is not the skin colour that is why they play football in europe; it is their political relations with other countries in the local region that mean matches would be less than friendly. Being a western outpost and all that.

      3. So do Aze teams. Im sur we would say same to race in isreal. Euro GP was always great not no more

    14. They’re also doing stuff like this…

      https://twitter.com/SportForRights/status/739778890751676416

      Keep polishing that turd, oil-rich non-European dictatorship!

      1. That is quite possibly the most ridiculous thing I have seen all year.

      2. They do this when cleaning/restoring building facades. Can’t say for sure it isn’t being “potemkin-ed”, but you see these all over European cathedrals and state houses and other buildings where the soot and pollution of daily life have turned white marble and gray stone facades black and brown.

      3. I thought this was common practice for buildings subjected to renovations? Instead of covering them with plain cloth for the duration of works, they often put the picture of what the building will look like afterwards.

    15. ‘Oh no, a challenge, please get rid of it’

    16. Is it possible that we might see a permanent yellow flag zone for this section? Akin to the Melco hairpin in Macau?
      I can see the possibility of this being a snap decision if we have an incident in FP1 or FP2.

      1. I can see that happening. What happens when a car gets jagged against unprotected block work of the tower, and suddenly everyone realises that having a rough stone block “barrier” is not a good idea.

    17. It’s narrow for sure, but I don’t expect any trouble with this section. T7 looks to be too slow for anyone to get a proper run from it (and then trying a move into T8), so there should be no danger of any overtaking there.

    18. There’s a ghost being the catch fencing!

      1. @john-h Haha now i see it, is it also wearing sunglasses?

    19. Tight.

      Personally lets ve honest human rights get violated plenty in western democracies. That are all but democratic.

      France for example has major protests as we speak. No need for us to be judgemental of other systems of government.

      So I focus on the sporting part and track does look intresting.

      1. I hate to break it to you @joreo, but people protesting in the streets is no sign of human rights violations. Cracking down on protests with tanks and guns is. As is pre-emptively jailing many who point to serious issues and habitually torturing them in the process etc.

        Sure, everyone bombing and shooting something is worrisome, but then again every war is violating peoples rights one way or the other (hard to say whether sitting at the sidelines watching slaughtering is less bad than getting involved somehow by attacking those who do the slaughtering, hurting innocents in the process). And not respecting minorities as much as we should, not always giving fair process etc is of quite a different scale than the repression we see in many middle eastern countries, or indeed in the likes of Azerbaijan @ibrahim

        1. eh, that should be @jureo

        2. How is Baku location worse than half the current races?

          Example, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Russia, U.S.A., China, Brazil,…

          F1 is a sport, location does not matter, they go where the money is and where Bernie sends them. If sponsors would boycott some race for sure they wouldn’t go there.

          What countries do or no t do we can agree or disagree but if they provide “green bucks” they can hold a race.

          Bernie is not beholding to any political view and is loyal to his and FOM shareholder interests. Mostly he will set up a race where he has financial incentive to do so.

    20. Raise your hand if an Azeri bomber has brought democracy and freedom of speech to your country! …. Nope? No one?

      1. My point being: Just focus on the track which looks fast, challenging bordering on dangerous and like nothing we have on the calendar.

    21. Lee Porcelli
      8th June 2016, 5:42

      I’m worried about Max getting thru that corner.

    22. I am not a fan of such tight corners. Adds incredibly to the risk, incredibly slow- takes away quite the momentum, almost no overtake potential what-so-ever, just cuz the architect though- “hey, lets add this weird corner as a symbol for this track, seems fun and professional, drivers will have a hard time *evil grin*”.

      I guess we will have to wait and see how it plays out.

      1. PS: That face on the mid-right side of the picture will now haunt me in my nightmares.

        1. Yeah and probably the drivers too like ” omg I saw a ghost at turn 2, WTH !! ”

          ” Alright PIT NOW PIT NOW , counselling on the way”

    23. Layout looks like a tooth brush with paste on it.

    24. another campaign against Azerbaijan

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