Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Baku City Circuit, 2018

Baku faces June deadline to decide future of F1 race

2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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The Baku F1 race promoters face a June deadline to decide whether to extend their Azerbaijan Grand Prix contract.

The race’s five-year deal means it will appear on the 2019 F1 calendar and again in 2020. It has an option to continue for a further five years, which would take it up to 2025.

However Baku circuit executive director Arif Rahimov told RaceFans the organisers want a reduction in the race fee, which is twice the average paid by other races on the calendar.

“Money is obviously one of anything we talk about when there is a contract in place,” said Rahimov.

“There’s more than one side on the negotiation. From one side we want the race to stay, from the other side obviously we realise that we’re paying more than we possibly should. So we’re trying to get to the middle.”

Rahimov expects the marketing value of holding the race will lessen the longer it remains on the calendar.

“I think in general Formula One has done a lot for us. I think it was a great project for us, it was a great project for Formula One based on the feedback that I get. People like the race, they like watching it on TV, they like watching it live. Every year we have more international spectators coming to the race, that says something about it. People are generally happy about Baku being in the Formula One calendar and we’re happy we’ve done it.

“However one of the key points is that to any promoter the first three years of the race, especially for promoters who want to develop the destination from a tourist perspective, the first two, three, four years of the project work more than the rest.”

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Baku City Circuit, 2018
Azerbaijan GP qualifying in pictures
The growth in spectators travelling to the race from outside Azerbaijan has increased in the third year of the race, Rahimov confirmed.

“Last year we had a twofold increase in the number of international spectators from year one to year two. And it’s not because we’ve done more marketing intentionally, actually I think we’re done less marketing last year in Europe than we’ve done in year one. But the race itself promoted the next race.

“The same happened last year. We showcased the city, the track was great, looked amazing on the TV, the racing was crazy and amazing, it was the best race of the season according to many. And now we have another increase on the international figures, we’re in the region of a 20% increase so far as of today.”

Rahimov said the organisation of the race, which is now in its third year, is getting better each season. The preparations include laying Tarmac over a cobblestone section in the old city part of the track. This was removed following the 2016 race and re-laid for 2017, but left in place for this year. Even so it takes four months to assemble the infrastructure needed to put on the race.

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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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10 comments on “Baku faces June deadline to decide future of F1 race”

  1. I hope this race is removed from the calendar!
    It may produce action, but when an accident results in 30 minutes of safety car time it’s ridiculous. A lot more racing should have happened – red flag the bloody race if necessary.
    The track is is too inaccessible for clean up crews to clear the track in a timely manner.
    Hopefully I’ve seen more of the safety car today than the rest of the season!

  2. jamesluke2488
    29th April 2018, 15:51

    I hope this race is kept on the calendar, Last two races there have been eventful and its nice to see races in new locations well supported

    1. “Last two races there have been eventful”

      More like last 2 “demolition derbys”

  3. Is it true that a Dutch TV reporter heard Bernie saying that this is the last race at Baku? Bernie being Bernie it’s hard to take something like this at face value, though…

    1. I have to say that at this point, someone on TV in a smaller country hearing Bernie say something makes it less reliable than hearing it from anyone else on tv, or just from paddock rumours @phylyp – it might still be true, but I’m not willing to believe much that Bernie puts out (and if he was heard saying it, he likely did that intentionally, he’s very clever).

      1. Agreed @bosyber and hence my concluding sentence above :-)

  4. They need to get this race nailed on in the calendar. It produces brilliant drama – not just in F1 but F2 as well – and is becoming one of my favourite race weekends of the season.

  5. Baku has it all: it’s unique, it’s VERY challenging for the drivers and it looks amazing on TV. Even the best drivers in world are struggling to master it. To me that’s so much more engaging than seeing them race on tracks where every inch of it has been analyzed and dissected to the point where it’s very predictable.

    Liberty should dump the punishing and greedy Bernie contract and renegotiate a fair one to keep Baku on the calendar for many years. It’a a gem.

    1. And it’s the best street circuit in ANY series, IMO.

    2. I agree, Liberty should take over and re-do the contract with more amicable terms and keep this race in the calendar for other 5, 10 years or more!
      This is Monaco 2.0, has the challenges of street racing but with several overtaking areas and speeds of Spa. ITA or MEX.

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