Formula 1

Baku Still Hoping for 2020 Grand Prix with Mid-October the Cut-off Date

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Credit: Clive Mason/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Arif Rahimov, the Executive Director of Baku City Circuit, says it is still a possibility that the Azerbaijan Grand Prix will take place in 2020, with mid-October the latest it could happen.

The race, which debuted on the calendar back in 2016, was initially set to take place in June but is one of the ten races currently either postponed or cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rahimov says talks are continuing with Formula 1 bosses about a potential race in Baku this year but it is important for the event to be held when conditions are good for racing and spectators.

“We are in close contact with the Government of Azerbaijan, F1 and other stakeholders,” said Rahimov to MotorsportWeek.com. 

“At this moment in time, while we are keen to host a race in 2020, we obviously can’t commit to running the race later in the year until the situation with COVID-19 becomes clearer and the world returns back to close to how we remember it prior to the pandemic.

“We have agreed with F1 that the race should not be postponed until after mid-October.  We truly care about our fans and value their experience so we would want them to be able to enjoy amazing weather in Baku during the race weekend.”

Officials could reduce Construction Activities to just 11-12 weeks

Rahimov says the circuit will need at least eleven or twelve weeks to ready the circuit to race, with the difficultly coming from the fact that it is a street circuit.  Ideally, he feels a mid-September date would be good for the track, although this can be pushed back until mid-October at the latest.

“Usually we programme our construction activities to start 13-14 weeks prior to the race weekend,” said Rahimov.  “In the current situation, however, we could try to reduce this to 11-12 weeks, which would involve a more intensive construction schedule.

“If we were in a position to hold the race in a period between early/mid-September to mid-October, then I would be very positive that we can achieve this target, given the fact that most of the construction work would be completed in the summer [during the best weather].

“The fact that we are running the race on the streets of the city adds to the complication – as it does to any street circuit. As such, it would ideally be great to try to run the race before the schools restart after the summer break on September 15th.”

Not Possible for Baku to Host Multiple Events

Whereas some venues could possibly host two races in successive weekends, Rahimov says this isn’t possible for Azerbaijan, and there are currently no plans being discussed that would require any kind of change to the race weekend format.

“In the event that we can stage a race this year, we certainly do not expect to make any changes to the race format, and this has never been discussed with F1,” Rahimov said.

“I also don’t believe it would be possible to run races in Baku over several weekends as it would involve causing too much inconvenience to our residents due to the fact that the circuit is located right in the heart of the city.”

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Thirty-something motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1, Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula 3. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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