The Baku Grand Prix has become a fan favorite among Formula One (F1) enthusiasts. Held on a high-speed course around the city of Baku, this event has been the site of some of the most action-packed races of recent years. In 2023, the Baku race will be undergoing a major change, featuring F1‘s first trial of its new sprint weekend format. This event will have standalone qualifications for the shortened race on Saturday afternoon. With a sell-out crowd for the first time in its history, the race is poised to make history.
Despite the excitement surrounding the event, the circuit’s current contract is set to expire in 2024. However, it looks as if talks with F1 officials are ongoing, and the venue overlooking the Caspian Sea could be granted an extended stay. In a statement to the press, Turab Teymurov, the Baku City Circuit head of communications, said, “I can’t really disclose the details of the negotiations – however, it’s no secret that we are really looking forward to it being signed. It’s going in a positive direction.” Teymurov went on to discuss the benefits of hosting this major race, stating that it brings significant value to Azerbaijan.
According to Teymurov, Azerbaijan has benefited financially from hosting the first four races to the tune of more than $500 million, but there are other benefits as well. Hosting this event has allowed for the creation of volunteer and youth programs, and it has been a catalyst for corporate social responsibility initiatives. Teymurov stated that the venue hopes to be established for the long-term, saying, “It doesn’t matter for us whether it’s three, six, or ten [years], this year is very important. And if it’s long term, we would like to be established, so the longer the better.”
When discussing the placement of the race in the F1 calendar, Teymurov was confident that the venue could be flexible. The race has already switched between April and June dates over its tenure on the schedule. Furthermore, Teymurov revealed that depending on the success of the sprint event at the circuit, the organisers would be open to hosting further sprint race weekends.
According to Teymurov, “Whether it’s in June or April, we don’t take it as a challenge because it’s not challenging for us anymore.” The organisers have a “very strong team,” with “the right expertise and the right knowledge to be able to host such a big event,” regardless of when it is held. Commenting on the weather, Teymurov also highlighted that hosting the event in April adds more drama to the race, and it is windier at that time of year.
Summing up, the 2023 Baku Grand Prix has the potential to break records, and talks of an extended stay beyond 2024 are ongoing. Teymurov and his team are confident in their ability to host the event, with experience across multiple dates and formats. If the sprint race event is successful, it’s likely that we will see more of these in the future. Baku is a key location for F1, providing both financial and social benefits to Azerbaijan, and it seems the benefits could continue for many years to come.