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F1 scores own goal with Baku race?

The introduction of a new race track and new destination is usually met with excitement throughout Formula One.

The watching public want to see a blend of the classic, traditional and historical tracks of the likes of Silverstone, Monaco and Spa, but also like to see the sport break into new markets with new exciting tracks such as Austin in the United States of America and more recently Mexico.

For 2016 the new destination is Baku in Azerbaijan, who will host the European Grand Prix, despite the fact that the country somewhat straddles Western Asia and Eastern Europe.

It's an interesting destination with the Baku City Circuit designed by Hermann Tilke, driving close by to the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Maiden Tower.

But despite all the positives, it has received negative publicity.

The Formula One calendar has meant that the race clashes with the Le Mans 24 hour race, an event which has arguably never been more popular and was won last year by Force India's Nico Hulkenberg.

With the events now clashing the German driver will not be able to defend his title, as the race begins just as qualifying is set to get underway in Baku.

Formula One bosses have tried their level best to avoid a clash between the races themselves and with Le Mans set to end just after 2pm GMT, the lights will go out in Baku for the start of the Grand Prix.

This means that with a local start time of 6pm, any delay to running could risk fading light , with the sun to set slightly after 9pm.

According to FIA president Jean Todt the clash was impossible to avoid.

'The calendar as an exercise is a very tricky job because you have 21 races in F1, you have 10 races in Formula E, you have 10 races also in WEC, You have 14 rallies next year. So to make one calendar without any conflict is simply not possible.' he told the media.

Then of course there is the financial issues in the area following the drop of Oil prices and the collapse of Azerbaijan currency the Manat.

Issues that have ignited rumours that the race is actually under threat.

'The devaluation of the Manat will have no impact with regards to the staging of the first ever Formula 1 race in Azerbaijan, In fact, when the budget for the Grand Prix of Europe was approved, it was initially calculated in US dollars. As a result, we are not expecting any changes to the current event budget.' ' a spokesman for the Baku City Circuit told

'We would once again stress that the overall economic impact - both short and long term, direct and indirect - created by staging an F1 race will be of huge benefit to the national economy.'

'The impact of increased tourism and direct visitor spending that will be injected into Baku area business establishments such as restaurants, bars, hotels and retailers will see millions, if not more, pumped into the economy.

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The Journalist

Writer: Red5 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday January 25 2016

Time: 10:00AM


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