Ecclestone Lining Up Azerbaijan Grand Prix for 2016 (5th Update)

UPDATE #5 "I am delighted to officially announce that we have signed a contract to bring Formula 1 racing to Baku in 2016. Our location at the crossroads of eastern Europe and western Asia is a new frontier for Formula 1 racing," said Azerbaijan's Minister of Youth and Sport, Azad Rahimov.

"Azerbaijan is a modern European country that has established a reputation as a centre of sporting excellence. The deal to bring Formula 1 racing to Baku is a very significant new chapter in our ongoing success to attract the world's largest sporting events to our country," he added.

While the design and exact course of the city street racetrack has yet to be finalized, Minister Rahimov revealed that it is envisaged that Baku's Azadliq Square will accommodate the race start, main grandstand and pits and that the racetrack will include major roads and landmarks such as Neftchilar Avenue, Government House and Maiden Tower.

"Baku's 'Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe' will be a spectacular addition to the Formula 1 calendar. The course that we are planning to design will be similar to leading street circuits already on the FIA Formula 1 World Championship calendar," he added.

Azerbaijan's ambition to create one of the most exciting races on the Formula 1 circuit was welcomed by Bernie Ecclestone, Chief Executive Officer of the Formula 1 group of companies.

"We are very happy that Baku has joined the Formula 1 family. This will be a street race, which will pass through interesting and picturesque parts of Baku. The event will meet the current Formula 1 criteria."

Baku is already highly experienced in hosting international motor-racing having hosted other racing series for the past two years, presenting spectacular racing over a city street circuit around Crystal Hall – the venue built to host the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest – and the National Flag Square.

07/25/14 (GMM) The Mexicans are not the only hosts clamoring for the F1 calendar.

"Baku is for 2016," Ecclestone, speaking to F1 business journalist Christian Sylt, told Forbes.

He is referring to the capital of Azerbaijan, even though the republic at the crossroads of Europe and Asia was originally targeting an inaugural race for 2015.

And as for the on-again, off-again prospect of a New Jersey street race, Ecclestone now thinks the famous Manhattan skyline might feature on the 2016 schedule.

"Somebody said to me the other day that New Jersey seem to have got their act together now and that they have got the money and are all in good shape," he said.

"Whether or not that is true I don't know. The soonest it could come on the calendar is 2016."

04/30/14 We already had this rumor as 'fact' back on March 18th, so it is old news to readers. A deal for Baku to stage a Formula One race has been officially signed as the Azerbaijani capital continues to establish itself on the world sporting stage.

The race – which is likely to be called the Grand Prix of Europe – is set to take place in 2016, the year after the city hosts the inaugural European Games.

It will be the second country in the former Soviet Union to hold a grand prix following Sochi, which is due to make its debut later this year on October 12.

The race in Baku is set to take place on a circuit around the streets of the city, a concept becoming increasingly popular with organizers around the world.

The most famous, of course, is Monte Carlo but other cities which hold races on street circuits are Melbourne and Singapore.

New Jersey and Bangkok are also being proposed as venues for 2015 and plan to use street circuits.

Baku already has experience of hosting an event on the streets of its city.

Baku has hosted Azerbaijan's first international motor races over the past two years: the non-championship Baku City Challenge took place on a 1.33-mile street circuit in 2012 and last year it held the FIA GT Series finale on a new 2.72-mile layout.

The city is scheduled to host the final round of this year's Blancpain Sprint Series, which takes over from FIA GTs, this November.

Last year's race was won by the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT driven by Pole Stephane Ortelli and Belgian Laurens Vanthoor before a crowd estimated at more than 50,000.

03/18/14 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's news. But why?



(GMM) Almost a year ago, Bernie Ecclestone stunned F1's headline writers when he said plans were afoot for a race in Baku.

Seasoned journalists quickly discovered it is the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan, an oil-rich former soviet state at the crossroads of Asia and Europe.

Now, London's Times newspaper has quoted the F1 chief executive as saying Baku could be on the annual calendar as soon as next year.

"They are talking about 2015," said Ecclestone. "That may be a bit soon unless it is the end of the season. That is a possibility but 2016 is more likely."

To Azerbaijan's north is Russia, whose president is Vladimir Putin, a man with controversial views on homosexuality that Ecclestone said recently he backs.

Indeed, even with the Ukrainian conflict in full swing, Ecclestone plans to shortly travel to Russia to meet with Putin about converting Sochi's new grand prix venue for floodlit racing in the future.

Ecclestone said Russia is a "no brainer" for F1.

"We have to be there," he said. "It is a huge market and full of potential fans for the sport. They really want F1 and we want a race there to work.

"I have no problem with Vladimir," Ecclestone is also quoted by the Daily Mail.

"He ran a good winter Olympics. We get on very well — no problems."

Less secure on the F1 calendar is Germany's Nurburgring race, after Bernie Ecclestone was outbid despite offering to buy the fabled track for $50 million.

Ecclestone told F1 business journalist Christian Sylt that a decision about another buyer for the Nurburgring is due on Wednesday.

"The German grand prix is in trouble because they haven't got any money," Ecclestone is quoted by City A.M.

"When I go to an auction I want to leave a bid, which is what I did, and somebody could offer more. I don't know what's happening there," he added.

03/04/14 F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone is lining up a Grand Prix in the capital of Azerbaijan as F1’s "move into turbulent new territory in the Black Sea region starts to look troubled," according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. City officials in Baku have "put F1 on their list of must-have sporting events," and Ecclestone "is listening to a deal that could put the sport on the city’s streets as soon as next season."

Ecclestone: "They are talking about 2015. That may be a bit soon unless it is the end of the season. That is a possibility but 2016 is more likely." Baku is already playing host to the European Athletics Championships next year and has made several bids for a summer Olympic Games. The most notable large-scale event staged in the city to date "is probably the Eurovision Song Contest," which it staged in '12. However, Azerbaijan’s record on human rights "has been a source of concern" to the Western powers to add to the problems now mounting in Ukraine. London Times

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