Baku City Circuit is the second longest circuit on the F1® calendar, plus seven other things you may not have known about the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
The European Grand Prix
The inaugural race around the streets of Baku in 2016 was called the “Grand Prix of Europe,” even though Azerbaijan is located in Eurasia, at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. The title of European Grand Prix has been given to 23 standalone races since 1983. Other circuits to have hosted the event include Valencia and Jerez in Spain, Donington Park and Brands Hatch in the UK and the Nürburgring in Germany.
When Baku held its first race in 2016, it became the second city in the Caucasus region to host a Grand Prix after Sochi in Russia joined the F1 calendar two years earlier. The two circuits are approximately 1140 kilometres (708 miles) apart, which would take 16 hours to drive according to Google Maps, passing through Georgia and the disputed region of Abhkazia.
A Unique Circuit
Measuring 6.003 kilometres, Baku City Circuit is the second longest circuit on the current F1 calendar after Spa Francorchamps. The temporary street circuit features 20 turns, the third most of any current circuit (Singapore’s Marina Bay has 23 turns and Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina has 21 turns). One of the most striking features of Baku City Circuit is the narrow section near Turn 8, which skirts the old city walls, and is just 7.6 metres wide. This compares to a recommended minimum width of 12 metres for new permanent circuits in the FIA’s International Sporting Code.
During the 2016 European Grand Prix in Baku, Williams claimed that Valtteri Bottas set a new all-time F1 speed record after data from the Finn’s car showed a speed of 378 kph (235 mph) on the Main Straight. To date however, the record has not been recognised by the FIA.
Vettel vs Hamilton
The renamed Azerbaijan Grand Prix delivered one of the most exciting races in 2017. The race was won by Daniel Ricciardo in a Red Bull after a series of accidents and safety car deployments. The most controversial incident in the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix involved a clash between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel under the safety car. With the safety car due back in, Vettel ran into the back of Hamilton as the duo played cat and mouse ahead of the restart. An enraged Vettel then drew alongside Hamilton, who he believed had “brake tested” him, and deliberately swerved into the side of the Mercedes. Hamilton later complained about the race director’s response to the incident on team radio: “a 10-second penalty’s not enough for driving behaviour like that. You know that Charlie!”
Lance Stroll became the second-youngest driver to score an F1 podium after finishing third in the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. He was only 11 days older than Max Verstappen was when he won the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, aged 18 years and 228 days. Stroll also became the first Canadian to stand on an F1 podium since Jacques Villeneuve in 2001, and the first Canadian ever to do a shoey on the podium!
On his way to victory last year, Ricciardo completed a triple pass on Lance Stroll, Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenberg into the first corner that was voted the best overtake of the season by fans on the Formula 1 twitter account. See the move here.
Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly and Sergey Sirotkin will all be making their F1 debut in Azerbaijan this year. However, all three drivers have tasted success at Baku City Circuit in Formula 2 (ex-GP2). Leclerc won the feature race in 2017 on his way to the Championship, whilst Sirotkin and Gasly have both recorded second-place finishes in Formula 2 on the streets of Baku