The oil-rich country of Azerbaijan became the newest fixture on the F1 calendar in 2016. Baku City Circuit, one of the longest tracks on the calendar, combines twisting sections reminiscent of Monaco with flat-out straights like those at Monza.
|TRACK LENGTH||3.753 miles|
|NUMBER OF LAPS||51|
|NUMBER OF TURNS||20|
|MOST POLES||Charles Leclerc (3)|
|MOST WINS||Sergio Perez (2)|
Baku itself is no stranger to motorsport, with the Baku World Challenge having been held on a street circuit between 2012 and 2014. Azerbaijan wanted a prestigious event to add to its list of honours, and followed in the footsteps of similarly oil-rich countries Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, and enticed Formula 1 to the area.
In December 2013, Bernie Ecclestone announced that a deal had been signed for F1 to visit the country for the first time, with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix to be added to the Formula 1 calendar from 2015 onwards. Ecclestone then suggested that the event would replace the Korean Grand Prix, with the organisers of that event being in breach of their contract. In July 2014, it was announced that the Baku race would in fact début in 2016.
A track design was submitted to the FIA in mid 2015. Baku City Circuit, which was designed by Hermann Tilke, was – at the time – the fastest street circuit in the world. It is also one of the longest circuits on the current Formula 1 calendar – only Spa is longer.
Baku City Circuit runs anti-clockwise and passes through the oldest parts of the city, past government houses and out on to Baku’s promenade, with panoramic views of the Caspian Sea. Baku City Circuit boasts a mix of slow and tight twisting turns, along with the longest flat out section of track seen throughout the season, where the cars reach a mammoth maximum speed of 235mph.
Another unique feature of Baku City Circuit is that narrowest part is just 7.6 metres wide at Turn 8. On the apex of this corner, which is barely wide enough for two cars to fit side-by-side, you can find a medieval wall. This area of the city has cobbled streets, so temporary asphalt is laid over it in time for the Grand Prix.
The 2020 Azerbaijan Grand Prix was postponed in March 2020 and ultimately cancelled in June 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event returns in 2021 behind closed doors. A new contract signed in May 2021 will see Baku City Circuit host the Azerbaijan Grand Prix until at least 2024, extending the previous contract – signed in February 2019 – by a year.
BAKU CITY CIRCUIT FAST FACTS
- The first time a race was run at Baku City Circuit in 2016, it was given the title of the European Grand Prix. For 2017 onwards, the race has been known as the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
- There is a 202 metre run to the first corner at Baku City Circuit , and the two longest straights on the track – the run to Turn 1 and between turns 2 and 3 – are where you’ll find the DRS activation zones.
- Fuel consumption can be critical at Baku City Circuit, with 2.1kg of fuel being used per lap.
- There were issues over the running of the first F1 weekend at Baku City Circuit. The FIA reported that, following Friday Practice, 90% of the tyres used had been cut by loose bolts on the kerbing of the track. Furthermore, Valtteri Bottas was forced to sit out Free Practice Three due to hitting a loose drain cover.
- Baku City Circuit is situated 28 metres below sea level.
LEARN MORE ABOUT BAKU CITY CIRCUIT
2022 AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX RECAP
A double retirement for Ferrari eased Red Bull’s route to victory at the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, as Max Verstappen became Baku City Circuit’s sixth different winner.
Drivers encountered the usual scrapes and bumps through Free Practice in Azerbaijan, while some teams suffered with excessive porpoising on Baku City Circuit’s long main straight. Lance Stroll was first to find the barriers in qualifying, but was able to escape with only front wing damage. However, two minutes later, another scrape of the walls for Stroll brought out the red flags. Amid the expected chaos in qualifying at Baku, Charles Leclerc became the first driver to take multiple poles at the track.
Sergio Perez started alongside Leclerc on the front row on Sunday and it was the Mexican who led after Turn 1. Nine laps into the race, Carlos Sainz came to a halt at Turn 4. With one Ferrari out of the race, the other Ferrari pitted under Virtual Safety Car conditions.
Sebastian Vettel was the man on the move in the early stages, getting by Lewis Hamilton in the pit-lane as a result of the Mercedes driver being stuck behind his team-mate as it was time for him to pit. Vettel then made a move on Esteban Ocon but out-braked himself, losing two positions in the process. Vettel made a move on Ocon stick later on in the race.
Perez continued to lead until his team-mate passed him at Turn 1 on Lap 15. When the Red Bulls pitted, Leclerc’s earlier stop meant that the Ferrari acquired the lead of the race. However, Leclerc’s lead was short lived. On Lap 20, an engine failure saw the Ferrari driver come to a stop on the main straight with smoke pouring from its rear. Ferrari recorded their first double retirement in almost two years.
Yuki Tsunoda encountered DRS issues, which the AlphaTauri team attempted to fix using gaffer tape. Meanwhile, his team-mate Pierre Gasly came under pressure for fourth place from Lewis Hamilton.
The order remained unchanged at the front, with Verstappen leading home a Red Bull 1-2, Verstappen and becoming the sixth different winner in six races at Baku City Circuit. George Russell joined the Red Bull duo on the podium.
2021 AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX RECAP
Another eventful affair in Baku saw Max Verstappen crash out of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with a tyre failure, handing the win to team-mate Sergio Perez.
Following a number of near misses throughout the practice sessions – and a session-stopping collision for Max Verstappen in Free Practice 3 – the red flags were out in force during qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with multiple drivers finding their way into the barriers. Lance Stroll was first to crash in Q1, before another red flag-inducing crash from Antonio Giovinazzi. In Q2, Daniel Ricciardo crashed into the wall, while in Q3 the drivers’ final efforts were prematurely ended as Yuki Tsunoda made contact with the barriers and Carlos Sainz subsequently ran into the run-off area.
The Q3 melee resulted in Charles Leclerc recording a second successive pole position. The Ferrari driver led the opening two laps before being overtaken by championship protagonists Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. As one Ferrari dropped down the order, the other was slowed with Sainz taking another visit to the run-off area.
Verstappen jumped Hamilton following a slow stop for the Mercedes driver. On Lap 31, Lance Stroll suffered a tyre issue which saw him clatter the barrier at high speed. The race resumed four laps later, with Sebastian Vettel taking fourth place from former team-mate Leclerc at Turn 1. Vettel was on the move again a few laps later, passing Pierre Gasly for fourth.
Five laps from the end, another tyre failure for Verstappen saw him crash out from the lead. A red flag period followed, leading to a five-lap shootout at Baku City Circuit between the remaining drivers. Perez started from pole. Hamilton, alongside the Red Bull on the front row, locked up at Turn 1 and went deep into the run off area. The Mercedes driver finished outside of the points as a result. That left Vettel and Gasly in a fruitless pursuit of Perez. Perez claimed his first victory for Red Bull, while Vettel recorded Aston Martin’s first podium finish in Formula 1.
2019 AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX RECAP
Valtteri Bottas retook the championship lead with a win at the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The weekend was filled with bizarre incidents.
There was drama right from the start of the Baku weekend as the First Practice session had to be cancelled following a series of unfortunate incidents. Firstly, George Russell ran over a loose drain cover which destroyed the floor of his car. Then, the recovery vehicle which was transporting his stricken car was too big to fit under a bridge and the two objects made contact. The drain covers were welded and the recovery trucks put away, but Saturday’s qualifying was just as dramatic.
Robert Kubica brought out the red flags in Q1 with a crash at the tight Turn 8, and Charles Leclerc did the same thing in Q2. After a lengthy delay, it was Valtteri Bottas who eventually took pole position.
The Mercedes drivers went side by side into the opening turns, but Bottas maintained his advantage. The opening laps passed without much incident, Former team-mates Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat found themselves out-braking each other, and Ricciardo made things worse by forgetting to check his mirrors before reversing right into the Toro Rosso.
Romain Grosjean and Pierre Gasly became the third and fourth retirements of the afternoon, each pulling aside with mechanical problems. Hamilton closed in on the back of his leading team-mate, but Bottas held on to take his second win of the season. The Finn reclaimed the championship lead with his victory. Sebastian Vettel finished third, while Charles Leclerc was awarded Driver of the Day.
2018 AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX RECAP
Just as in 2017, Azerbaijan served up a chaotic Sunday afternoon as Lewis Hamilton took an unexpected victory as his team-mate lost the lead in the final laps.
There was a close call in Qualifying at Baku City Circuit as Pierre Gasly caught Brendon Hartley unsighted and narrowly avoided a huge crash between the pair. Kimi Raikkonen almost took pole but made a mistake in the final sector, leaving Sebastian Vettel to take a third consecutive pole.
The Finnish driver’s weekend went from bad to worse as he collided with Esteban Ocon on the first lap, ending the Frenchman’s race. Fernando Alonso was also caught up in first lap dramas and miraculously made it back to the pits with two punctures.
The Red Bull drivers battled each other throughout the Grand Prix, ultimately ending in a collision on the main straight. The collision brought out a Safety Car for the second time in the race, closing up the pack with Valtteri Bottas leading from Vettel and Hamilton after an extra round of pit stops. Under the Safety Car, Romain Grosjean crashed into the wall.
The Safety Car re-entered the pits with four laps remaining. Vettel attempted an overtake on the Finn into Turn 1 but locked up, losing two positions. The next time around, Bottas ran over debris, ensuring Hamilton would take the lead and win the race. Sergio Perez finished in third, taking a second podium at the Baku track, while Charles Leclerc scored his first points in Formula 1 with a sixth place finish.
BAKU CITY CIRCUIT WINNERS AND POLESITTERS
|Year||Polesitter||Team On Pole||Winner||Winning Team|
|2016||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes|
|2017||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull|
|2018||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes|
|2019||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes|
|2021||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||Sergio Perez||Red Bull|
|2022||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||Max Verstappen||Red Bull|
|2023||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||Sergio Perez||Red Bull|