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Baku City Circuit

Formula 1 circuit

Baku City Circuit
Credit: Dan Vojtech
Vital statistics for Baku City Circuit
CircuitBaku City Circuit
Race debut2016
Results for the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Pole positionLewis Hamilton
Race winnerDaniel Ricciardo
Fastest lapSebastian Vettel

Baku made their debut on the Formula One calendar in 2016, under the guise of the European Grand Prix. Azerbaijan had a desire to beef up their sporting profile as hosts of global events and so brought in Tilke Engineering to design them a city centre street circuit to host a race in the middle of summer. The track ended up being tight and twisting which raised some concerns but was ultimately praised for the unique challenge it presented.

F1 history

The Baku race was talked about for several years, and it was late 2013 when Bernie Ecclestone mooted the event for the 2016 season. There was some discussion that it would be moved forward to 2015 when the Korean race dropped off the calendar, but eventually the debut was returned to its original position on the 2016 calendar.

Baku doesn’t have a rich history of motorsport racing, but the grandstands weren’t too empty as the inaugural race weekend got underway. Red Bull had previously visited the city for some demo runs which were well attended and there was plenty of promotion ahead of the inaugural race weekend.

The Baku City Circuit is designed by Tilke Engineering, weaving around the city in what was an incredibly challenging fashion. The iconic shots from the weekend were taken where the cars navigated the narrow track next to the city walls. There are plenty of elevation changes around the circuit, including that section near the old town wall. Naturally, as a Tilke circuit, there are also some long straights, and with the promenade section, top speeds were reached to entertain the fans at the track.

The lack of run off area was of some concern to drivers, in case of incident, and the street nature of the track did mean some drain covers and outside influences affected the cars during practice. However, the first race was well received, and although chaos was expected, it was an incident-free event won by Nico Rosberg.