Baku City Circuit Directors Praise “Freedom” Liberty Media Gives Promoters


Credit: Zak Mauger/Williams

Baku City Circuit Executive Director Arif Rahimov has praised Liberty Media‘s new ownership on Formula 1, saying that it’s now easier to get decisions and that they’re afforded a freedom they never had under the rule of Bernie Ecclestone.

Liberty Media took over Formula 1 in early 2017 following forty years of involvement in the sport by Ecclestone, and one of their first acts was to oust Ecclestone from any decision-making positions and redistribute power, whilst other decisions aimed to make Formula 1 more accessible.

Chase Carey, Sean Bratches, and former Formula 1 engineer and team principal Ross Brawn now sit below Formula 1 owner John Malone, giving teams and tracks more people to speak to when looking for decisions than just Bernie. This, Rahimov says, has made things much easier.

It’s not for the good or for the bad, it’s just with Bernie it was whenever something needed to be decided, you’d go to Bernie and get it settled with Bernie.

“Now, some things can be fixed quite a lot easier, so we can just fix it with the Formula 1 middle management level – some things become harder, some things become easier.

“It’s not [a massive change] in general. In general it was good then and it’s good now. It works. The thing is that it works and we can push our ideas across. They’re listening to us, we’re listening to them. It’s a good collaboration.

Baku is the newest circuit on the calendar, having hosted only its second race last year, however it still provided one of the most fascinating races of the entire 2017 season. Being able to stand out as a new circuit – and being allowed to stand out – is something Rahimov says Liberty has allowed, and that the company has given tracks and promoters alike the freedom to be as creative as they can be with their race weekends.

Of course [it’s crucial to stand out], especially with the new races because people know what to expect from the old ones – they know the circuit, the drivers know the circuit, but with the new races this is the unknown territory; you can see the unexpected, you can see the new circuits, but it’s more of a big deal to actually do something that’s different.

“On the good side, Liberty allows something different throughout the race weekend so now it’s up to promoters’ fantasies and creativity to ensure that they can stand out, which is good. So it’s basically giving more freedom for the promoters to sort of improvise and bring something new to the race.