Baku City Circuit
|Location||Azadliq Square, Baku, Azerbaijan|
FIA Formula One|
European Grand Prix (2016)
Azerbaijan Grand Prix (2017–)
FIA Formula 2 (2017–)
GP2 Series (2016)
|Grand Prix circuit|
|Length||6.003 km (3.73 mi)|
|Race lap record||1:43.441 ( Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 2017, Formula One)|
The Baku City Circuit (Azerbaijani: Bakı Şəhər Halqası) is a motor racing circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan constructed near Baku Boulevard. A lap of the circuit is 6.003 kilometres (3.730 mi), making it the second-longest circuit on the Formula One calendar. The inaugural Formula One race at the circuit was the 2016 European Grand Prix and its support events. A year later, in 2017, the circuit held the inaugural Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
In December 2013, Formula One President and CEO Bernie Ecclestone suggested that the race would be run in 2016 but later said that because the Korean Grand Prix organisers were in breach of contract, it would be moved to 2015. However, in July 2014 it was announced that the race's debut would be delayed until 2016.
The six kilometre, anti-clockwise layout of the circuit was designed by circuit architect Hermann Tilke. The circuit was planned to start adjacent to Azadliq Square, then loop around Government House before heading west along a 1 km straight to the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower. Here, the track was planned to have a narrow 7.6 m (25 ft) uphill traversal and then circle the Old City before opening up onto a 2.2 km (1.4 mi) stretch along Neftchilar Avenue back to the start line. The circuit was projected to be the fastest street circuit in the world, with a top speed close to 360 km/h and the second longest circuit on the current F1 calendar behind the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
2016 European Grand Prix
The 2016 European Grand Prix was the inaugural event held on the Baku City Circuit. The hosting of the event was controversial because of Azerbaijan's poor human rights record, with ongoing imprisonment of political and human rights activists and journalists and bloggers who have criticised the regime. Many retirements were expected in the Formula 1 Grand Prix after the carnage of the GP2 Series support races, where over half of the drivers crashed or retired. It therefore came as a surprise when the only retirements, of which there were four, came as a result of mechanical failures. Mercedes's Nico Rosberg dominated the Grand Prix after qualifying on pole position the day before the race while Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Force India's Sergio Pérez finished second and third respectively to join him on the podium. Valtteri Bottas set a new unofficial Formula 1 top speed record in qualifying for the 2016 European Grand Prix when Williams Martini Racing claimed to have data showing him reaching 378 km/h (235 mph), eclipsing the previous record of 372 km/h (231 mph) set in 2005 by Juan Pablo Montoya for McLaren while testing at Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.
Pirelli found that 90% of the rear tyres used in free practice had been cut by the bolts securing kerbs to the ground not being drilled into the ground far enough, while Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg expressed concern over the lack of run-off areas which would be dangerous in the case of an incident such as a high speed puncture or mechanical failure. Valtteri Bottas was forced to miss the whole of Free Practice 3 when a drain cover came loose and caused significant damage to his Williams FW38. Many drivers praised the circuit for the challenge offered by its mixture of long straights, slow technical sections and no margin for error due to the proximity of the walls.
2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
The inaugural Azerbaijan Grand Prix was held at the circuit in 2017.
- Lap record (race/official): Sebastian Vettel – 1:43.441 (2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix)
- Lap record (unofficial): Lewis Hamilton – 1:40.593 (2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix)
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- Ltd., Crash Media Group. "Kerbs caused cuts to '90 per cent of left-rear tyres' – F1 News". crash.net. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
- Ltd., Crash Media Group. "Bottas brands drain cover incident 'unacceptable' – F1 News". crash.net. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
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