Ecclestone considering Azerbaijan F1 race in 2016

2016 F1 season

http://youtu.be/UjZMX5eXDF4

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.

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99 comments on Ecclestone considering Azerbaijan F1 race in 2016

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  1. Jarred Walmsley (@jarred-walmsley) said on 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,

    • Joshua Mesh (@joshua-mesh) said on 5th March 2014, 9:26

      Whats wrong now?

    • kpcart said on 5th March 2014, 12:32

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

    • Chris (@ukphillie) said on 5th March 2014, 13:11

      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.

      • ajokay (@ajokay) said on 5th March 2014, 13:16

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

        Yet they’ll still apologise for it.

      • zimkazimka (@zimkazimka) said on 5th March 2014, 14:55

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

      • @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.

      • andae23 (@andae23) said on 5th March 2014, 18:19

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

        • Chris (@ukphillie) said on 5th March 2014, 18:58

          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.

          • Maciek (@maciek) said on 5th March 2014, 19:22

            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.

          • andae23 (@andae23) said on 5th March 2014, 20:36

            @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.

      • Maciek (@maciek) said on 5th March 2014, 18:20

        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.

        • Steven (@steevkay) said on 5th March 2014, 18:41

          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.

        • Jose said on 6th March 2014, 3:28

          Add asbestos exports to that…

      • JCost (@jcost) said on 5th March 2014, 20:31

        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…

      • DaveW (@dmw) said on 5th March 2014, 21:51

        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.

      • Nathan (@il-ferrarista) said on 6th March 2014, 4:41

        +100

    • Pelican (@pelican) said on 5th March 2014, 18:00

      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.

  2. craig-o (@craig-o) said on 5th March 2014, 9:16

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

    • 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.

    • ajokay (@ajokay) said on 5th March 2014, 10:46

      Azerbaijan is about as European as Mars.

      • photozen (@photozen) said on 5th March 2014, 11:16

        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.

        • ajokay (@ajokay) said on 5th March 2014, 13:22

          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.

          • marsianwalrus (@einariliyev) said on 5th March 2014, 13:38

            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.

          • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 5th March 2014, 15:06

            @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.

          • Nathan (@il-ferrarista) said on 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.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 6th March 2014, 7:21

            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 :-)

    • zimkazimka (@zimkazimka) said on 5th March 2014, 14:59

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

    • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 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!

  3. sato113 (@sato113) said on 5th March 2014, 9:17

    no, please make it stop…

  4. Andrea said on 5th March 2014, 9:21

    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.

  5. Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 5th March 2014, 9:23

    Bahahahaha, money talks.

  6. Dan (@goonerdan19) said on 5th March 2014, 9:30

    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.

  7. PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend) said on 5th March 2014, 9:33

    Korean GP 2.0

    • marsianwalrus (@einariliyev) said on 5th March 2014, 9:51

      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.

      • 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. andae23 (@andae23) said on 5th March 2014, 9:34

    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.

    • marsianwalrus (@einariliyev) said on 5th March 2014, 9:45

      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.

    • 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

  9. marsianwalrus (@einariliyev) said on 5th March 2014, 9:36

    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. ramin said on 5th March 2014, 9:43

    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. BrawnGP said on 5th March 2014, 9:45

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

  12. Tango (@tango) said on 5th March 2014, 9:53

    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.

  13. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 5th March 2014, 10:02

    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. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 5th March 2014, 10:12

    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) said on 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.

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