The Formula One calendar each year is populated by some grands prix (like Monaco, Melbourne and Montreal) that are essential to the sport and others (like Bahrain, Russia or Korea) that expand its reach to new locations. But even in the latter category, the last place we'd expect to see on the list is Azerbaijan. Yet that, according to reports, is exactly where F1 is headed next.

According to reports circulating the interwebs, local organizers and Bernie Ecclestone – the embattled and controversial F1 supremo currently fighting corruption and bribery charges in court – have already signed and will soon announce a deal to bring the top racing series to the streets of Baku, Azerbaijan's capital city, starting in 2016. The reports further state that the race will be dubbed the Grand Prix of Europe or the European Grand Prix, a title last used for a race in Valencia held from 2008 through 2012 (alongside the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona) and before that at the Nürburgring (alongside the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim) from 1999 through 2006.

The idea may not be quite as far-fetched as it may seem at first. Baku is set to host the inaugural European Games next year, has already hosted the popular Eurovision song contest and has hosted a GT3 race on a specially designed street circuit. The grand prix would likely use a similar setup.

Though Azerbaijan, the largest country in the Caucasus region nestled in between Eastern Europe and Western Asia, is not a member of the European Union, it is part of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). It shares borders with Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Iran.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 12 Comments
      Technoir
      • 7 Months Ago
      Azerbaijan's leaders no doubt gave Bernie a big fat check to make the deal happen.
      Ross
      • 7 Months Ago
      I'm sorry, but Azerbaijan is NOT Europe.
      Autoblogist
      • 7 Months Ago
      Well, if you guys don't know Bernie's racket by now, it introduce 1 or 2 new venue's every couple years, threatening the stalwart races with expulsion from the race calender if they don't pay more. These races won't last, but a couple years under contract, but the fee increase will have taken place. There will never be a shortage of countries that will pay more money to host a race, they see it as an billboard for their emerging country.
      fabulous71
      • 7 Months Ago
      I'd rather see a second race in England/Italy/Germany like there used to be before greed took over.
      sixspeedclutchhh
      • 7 Months Ago
      why is this a surprise? if there's a despotic, authoritarian, deeply corrupt regime, bernie ecclestone is there to take a payout and then talk up the country's destructive leaders. why don't they sell petra ecclestone's LA home (the Spelling Mansion, that is so tasteless and gawdy that no one in California would buy it) and pay the drivers that are still owed money from 2013. he's a sick man. look at what he said earlier this year about putin. the guy deserves to die in a german jail. let's hope...
      Kuro Houou
      • 7 Months Ago
      How is this going to be the Grand Prix of Europe? More like the Grand Prix of the Middle East judging by its location on a map.. I guess Bernie is just trying to make it sound better for people who don't actually look at maps.. but basically he is selling out to another king or dictator. Should ban races in these countries instead.
        Kuro Houou
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Kuro Houou
        Also, who actually goes to these races. I have watched every F1 race for years now. All the races in counties like this seem to have stands that are mostly empty. Yet when I watch a race from Europe the seats are packed and grass areas are filled will people too.
        RocketRed
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Kuro Houou
        Yes, Korea is off the list and so are (neighboring) Turkey as well as India. Because no one cared to attend or could afford those races. You put a very expensive sporting event in a country that is not very wealthy, with no tradition in the sport and which is quite remote from countries that do have a tradition, and guess what happens? Conversely, F1 expansion into non-traditional markets works were people have money to burn and there is not a lot of competition for wealthy people's time and money in sports, See, e.g.,, Singapore, Abu Dhabi. Compare, India. It happens in F1 because the business model (brilliantly) puts the entire burden of promoting the event and selling the tickets, i.e., the risk, on the promoter. F1 gets its cash up front and has no concern with whether the stands are empty. Then F1 will gradually jack up the fees year by year until either the promoter gets more money or the event folds and moves on the next sucker who just desperately wants a race to put his country "on the map." With 18-20 races a year now, Bernie just doesn't care whether the GP of Kerplachistan actually comes back another year because he been paid and others are lined up to pay him more. But the sport is definitely harmed every it goes to some terrible venue where the stands are empty and then the race is abandoned in three years. You lose the continuity of tradition and a sense of the sport's identity. It's good to add new races, they need not all be in Europe, but their should be a commitment to the future based on more than whether the promoters can pay this year's new shocking license fee. That would create even more long term value in the property. F1 should be back in Mexico, Argentina, and France, in good locations, as a start.
      Rotation
      • 7 Months Ago
      What? Of course it will. F1 will go anywhere that they can get high sanctioning fees. And new venues always offer more than venues that currently have races.
      • 7 Months Ago
      [blocked]