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Azerbaijan street circuit layout for 2016 European Grand Prix revealed

2016 F1 season

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Baku F1 street track for 2016 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

The street circuit which will host Azerbaijan’s first grand prix in the 2016 F1 season has been revealed.

The track in the Azerbaijani capital Baku, which is an anti-clockwise layout, was designed by Hermann Tilke. The race will have the title of European Grand Prix.

Baku’s seaside promenade and government buildings will provide the backdrop to the race in a city which is home to 2.1 million people.

Tilke told the official Formula One website the track will have some “unique features” incorporated into its design.

“For example, there will be an extremely narrow uphill section at the old town wall that will reward pinpoint accuracy and courage,” he said.

“And we have an acceleration section of almost 2.2 kilometres along the promenade which will see the cars running flat out at very high top speeds – something that will create an incredible spectacle for the race fans on track and the viewers at home.”

The city is hosting a GT race for the second time this year in November on a different circuit to the south of the proposed Formula One track.

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Keith Collantine
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159 comments on “Azerbaijan street circuit layout for 2016 European Grand Prix revealed”

  1. what the bloody hell on earth is this…

    1. Looks like a man with a large head lying on his back to me.

      Tilke – the motorsport equivalent of the rorschach test.

      1. :D
        He has an outrageously thin neck.

      2. looked up rorschach test. learnt something. thank you.

    2. Hexagon and rectangle connected by a straight.

    3. Come on, the 5 spectators there will rave about how close to the cars they got, the drivers media handlers will tell them to say that the track was “challenging”, the sponsors will blare on social media about the “spectacle” and Bernie will get to buy each of his daughters a new gold plated supersonic private jet. What’s not to love?

      1. 5 spectators? you really are “crackers”, that is totally ignorant comment, I see many of them for eastern countries on this website. id rather see other world cities given a go then going back to say France with its dreadful magny-cours.

        1. Reductio ad absurdum.

          While Magny-Cours may be a dreadful track, but there are currently 3 French drivers on the grid, four teams powered by French engines and no shortage of passionate and knowledgeable French fans willing to attend a Grand Prix and Magny-Cours.

          This sport is broken, and the one man who can fix it cares more about making the most money he can before he disappears altogether than about ensuring the long term viability of the sport.

    4. Clearly, it is a Key. Haven’t you ever seen a key before?

      1. Michael Brown (@)
        8th October 2014, 13:46

        It’s a drawring of a key

    5. I really hope that bit in the middle is dual carriageway.
      But we are in a city centre, so maybe its part of a traffic calming scheme with speed bumps and a 20mph zone for a school….

    6. For now, you can watch this video, and stop at 1:10 (east part of the route), 2:44 (fast straight to the east), 2.51 (east part), 3.24 (fast straight), 3.25 (east end of the route), 3.31 (fast straight), 8.05 (the north part of the west), 8.15 (the north part of the west), 18:44 (general viw of Baku at night), 18:52-19:00 (fast straight on board camera view), 19:05 (east side upper route), 19:24 (east side), 19:30 (west side), 19:34 (east side), 19:55 (east side). What I couldn’t show you is the very interesting part of the route (the west part, the best part), and let it remain a surprise for you ;)

      I hope you like Baku, with and without F1 and I hope I could at least change your judging manner to the “let’s see” one :) :

      from Baku, with love,
      Sam Suleymanov

      1. Thanks for sharing Sam, Baku seems a very beautiful city.

        1. Oh, and the west part of the circuit that reminds Monaco a bit :) 0:00 – 1:35


          1. This is the hardest part of the circuit (on the map, below Nizami Ganjavi sign)
            F1 cars will drive up through that narrow street. I’m not sure if they leave the road surface rough like that.

          2. Make no mistake, the city is gorgeous.

            But is the track safe? It seems like it could be quite risky.

            Also I wouldn’t want them to damage the city when they build the track.

    7. It’s not the fact that it’s another go-kart track with virtually no overtaking position, neither the fact that they just wen onto google maps and drawn up a red line on it, nor the fast that it’s another Tilkedrome………………………but come ooooooo……….they called it the European Grand Prix !!!!! What the hell???? it’s like calling Silverstone the Scandinavian Grand Prix………….I lost hope :(

  2. Looks, erm… Nope, my mum always said if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.

    1. Haha, with that in mind… no comments then.

  3. What is that?! Is this serious? Since when was Azerbaijan in Europe anyway?!

    1. @zippyone – The Azerbaijan-Europe partnership began in 1996 :)

      See here for more details:

      1. Right thanks @bradley13 I really had no idea and I thought I was good at geography…

      2. They should have just called it ‘The edge of Europe Grand Prix’ Much more fitting. What a misnomer…Shame really.

      3. Since when european partners are european?

    2. Geographically it is in Europe (technically so is a tiny part of Kazahstan) but I really don’t know why they don’t just call it Azerbeijan GP or Caspian GP.

      1. Azerbijan GP sounds much more exotic and intriguing. I don’t care, that’s what I’ll be calling it from now on.

      2. Nonsense.

        Turkey is not a part of Europe, Syria is not a part of Europe, Iraq is not a part of Europe….and all these countries lie to
        the west of Azerbaijan, which is at least
        1000 miles from Europe. In every sense.

  4. So many bad aspects to this, is there nothing Bernie wont do for money.

    1. The map used in this article doesn’t even do justice to how bad the design is. I would have run it clockwise, starting from approximately the location of Sahil metro station, with a fairly long run to the first corner to make it stand out from other tracks a little. The corner at Azneft Dairəsi would have been an interesting overtaking opportunity, coming just after a “kink”. Instead it’s being run anticlockwise with the start/finish line in the far right corner and a tiny run to the first corner. I suppose it could be exciting if there’s a drag race between two cars for the race victory, but other than that, I don’t see any redeeming qualities.

      1. pastaman (@)
        8th October 2014, 2:13

        I think if it were run clockwise, the “turn 1” kink would be way too dangerous

  5. This is a rubberneck track. :)

  6. looks bloody awful.

  7. Some cities are not meant to hold street races.

    I have the distinct feeling that this is one of them.

    1. I would pay money to see F1 take place in Canberra Aus. Specifically the parliamentary triangle. Long sweeping curve, two bridges, and points for each politician that gets in the way. V8’s did try it years ago, but, V8’s, that’s Bathurst. Now Bathurst would be fantastic for F1. Bit like Spa but with Bogans.

      1. I for one would loves to see F1 around Mount Panorama. There’s just one problem I see with it: Kangaroos.

      2. A few years ago, McLaren F1 Racing Team went to Bathurst to drive around the track. They said “it’s a great track”, however F1 will never race at Bathurst because the top part of the track is to steep for the cars. @Yappy @stigsemperfi

    2. I should clarify that I did not mean this as a slight against Baku or even Azerbaijan. Just that the map doesn’t show a street layout that looks very track-oriented to me. lots of right angles, which one might expect in a city grid, which I don’t find particularly conducive to this sort of racing.

      The fans and drivers, in general, tend to favor tracks with elevation change, varying turns and a flow. Gridded city tracks rarely provide that. (..then again, nor do many Tilke non-city tracks.)

      1. I understand what you feel. You just don’t know Baku. And that circuit provides you unrealistic elevation changes and tightness. Look at this pic, drivers will have to drive up through that narrow street:

  8. That left side should be square too. Tilke you slippin bro…

  9. I’ll hold off on judging it properly just yet until I see a video lap of sorts, or some photos or something like that, but at first glance, it reminds me a little of an Indycar track, and they tend to be quite cool. I just hope the race is successful and doesn’t end up in the “badly attended or unfinished, and end up being abandoned” list of racetracks.

    1. @the-spuditron Yeah I agree that a quirky track can be lived with if there’s some grassroots support for it in the home country but it’s more likely this will be a destination for nouveau riche russians. I remember like watching the Detroit airport race in ChampCar. Maybe this will be similar.

      1. @bazza-spock It would surely be cool to see the local population get behind it. It’s really sad seeing racetracks with empty grandstands like we saw in South Korea or to have a place which previously had seating be replaced with advertising (ie turn 13 at Shanghai). I also hope the race doesn’t go the way of the New Jersey race.

        Aside from that, it does look quirky, and quirky could be a good thing. I guess it remains to be seen.

      2. If you mean the airport track, that was in Cleveland.

        1. Right. thanks!

    2. There are some “photo spheres” on Google Maps, and it does look like a beautiful place. The layout, though…

  10. There are some very interesting parts to it. There are also some absolutely awful parts. The entire east side of the track is just diabolical. The west section, other than the weird wobbly bit just south of the Nizami Gancavi?, looks actually quite fun, with a few interesting corners.

    It’s certainly unique.

    1. Same thoughts here, especially the “narrow uphill section” sounds promising.

    2. I dont like the part where the track runs side by side in opposite directions. Could easily be a safety nightmare.

    3. This is the hardest part of the circuit (on the map, below Nizami Ganjavi sign)
      F1 cars will drive up through that narrow street. I’m not sure if they leave the road surface rough like that.

      1. Well that’s interesting. I’ve always wanted to see another place in F1 that is essentially only one car wide. The way it looked on the track map made it look like it had pointless corners. Looks very tricky.

        I would imagine the road surface gets redone.

  11. When I started playing F1-videogames, the first track I liked was Phoenix. Because it was the easiest for kid-me, it basically had two types of corners, 90-degree-corners and one corner (the last) was like the half of an octagon driven as one 180-degree-corner. Ever sinced I learned driving a bit better (approximately when I turned 10 years old), I only raced that track again when I wanted a reminder.

    This layout reminds me of Phoenix.

  12. Is Formula 1 becoming Formula E? Streets circuits are good when they are UNIQUE. Monaco and Singapore have their place on the calendar, but F1 shouldn’t be racing on tracks like this…but tracks like Spa, Suzuka, Silverstone,…

  13. Phoenix at one end, Valencia at the other. If this goes ahead it’s another sign of F1 disappearing up its own extremely narrow uphill section.

    1. Hah, great twist!

  14. Even though I’m not really active in the track design contest thread on the forums anymore, I’m 90% sure you could pull any street design entry from it and it would look like a better lay out than this.

  15. Well…I mean, it’s unique…

  16. Well, they used to hold the Swiss Grand Prix in France, so having the European Grand Prix in Asia shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

    1. @red-andy And the Luxembourg Grand Prix in Germany, of course…

      1. And the San Marino GP in Italy…

  17. Am I the only one who like this? I agree the first sector sucks, but the last sector to the end of the straight looks like they could be getting really fast, which I look forward to.

    1. Looks not too bad on google Earth. A bit of elevation change around the hexagon bit.

      European GP it ain’t though, not sure why they are using that name but I presume money must be involved.

  18. F1 helped me understand Geography when I was at school; discovering where all the countries and circuits were around the world. I wonder how many confused people there will be when they find out that the ‘European Grand Prix’, and Azerbaijan for that matter, isn’t actually in Europe.

    1. A small part of Azerbaijan that is North of the Greater Caucasus watershed is actually commonly regarded as being in Europe. Baku is not in this part of Azerbaijan though.


      1. Well there you go. Clearly @red-andy and I need to go back to school! :P

  19. It looks like a weed bong.

    1. :)))) yup

  20. The photo that’s on the F1 website says speeds of up to 340kph are expected. For a street circuit, that’s madness.

  21. ive seen a couple of races held on the GT track for the World Touring Cars and from memory, the place looks like it’s being rebuilt after being bombed to hell. It had loads od empty scrub land and loads of construction sites with tower cranes. Looked bloody awful and very uninspiring for a location for International Motorsport, no matter what genre.

  22. What kind of crap is this? This is the worst street circuit I have ever seen! And I thought Valencia and Sochi was bad…

  23. It does have a slight phallic look to it.

  24. I count over ten corners that look like nothing more than right angles. considering how few right angles are to be found in Silverstone, Spa, Suzuka, and Interlagos, and how many were found in Valencia, I’m not exactly hopeful this track will put on a classic.

    1. Interesting that you mention Silverstone in there. The “classic” layout was actually mostly 90 degree turns. ;)

      1. Hahaha very true. Still had Maggots, Chapel and Abbey though! Kinda…

  25. What an uninteresting layout this is.

    One question: is it clock or anticlockwise?

  26. The first part, the Eastern part is absolutely annoying and ridiculous.

    Things notch up quite a bit afterwards, though – on a more precise drawing (below) we can see an almost Inner Loop-like right-left-left-right squeeze before T7, like at the Glen, but even faster, right before T7. The next section, starting with the left-hander T8, is – judging by the drawing and according to Tilke – is an extremely narrow, uphill sequence right below the old town wall. T13, T18 and T19 should be quite high-speed and that extremely long straight should benefit from them – flat-out or near flat-out corners tend to bunch cars up, this time for epic 2.2-kilometre slipstream battles.×503/popup/64lC/manual/baku_layout.jpg

    I think it should be reasonably fun, all in all.

  27. Well let’s wait with the hate one Tilke but I can’t deny my first reaction was: “O dear…”

    It’s the usual mickey mouse design with one long straight in it but hey keep in mind this is how the FIA wants Tilke to make them.

  28. I’m looking at it on google earth with the satellite view, and I’m actually a bit optimistic. It reminds me a bit of an enlarged Long Beach. It might be cool. It gives two easy overtaking places, but only if the following driver can nail some tricky spots first.

  29. Can’t wait to see what Tilke and his Etch-a-Sketch come up with for Pyongyang. It’s only a matter of time …

    Seriously, once Bernie has popped his clogs I hope Tilke is never allowed near F1.

  30. A street circuit has more purposes than a closed road circuit – it’s also meant to display the city which it is being held in.

    The Korean circuit failed because it had no city to show off. Singapore does well because of all the sights it passes by, though it’s an extremely hard circuit for drivers in terms of lap time and overtaking.

    I’ll reserve judgement for the Baku circuit, but if they can create a few more overtaking spots than Marina Bay and show off a relatively unknown (but supposedly picturesque) city then I think it won’t be so bad.

    I’m just confused as to why they won’t call it the Azerbaijan GP…is it some sort of political ploy to insist that they are truly European by calling it the European GP?

  31. Seems like a old key!

  32. For all the criticism, I actually intend to wait and see what it’s like onboard. From the air, some tracks look terribly uninspiring, but are a different story from ground level. For example, Valencia seems like a neat layout from above in my opinion. It’s boring nature comes more from the bland surroundings, parking lot runoff and poor suitability to high downforce cars. Personally, I see some interesting potential in this: higher speeds, overtaking opportunities and a genuinely unique layout. I mean seriously, everyone gripes about tilke’s cookie cutter approach and this looks nothing like his others, so cut him some slack.

    1. Case in point: look at this layout:

      No elevation change, 5 of the 8 turns are 90 degree right handers and it’s a converted airport. But it’s considered “a classic.” Before people start wailing on this course, wait to see how it actually works come race day.

    2. For now, you can watch this video, and stop at 1:10 (east part of the route), 2:44 (fast straight to the east), 2.51 (east part), 3.24 (fast straight), 3.25 (east end of the route), 3.31 (fast straight), 8.05 (the north part of the west), 8.15 (the north part of the west), 18:44 (general viw of Baku at night), 18:52-19:00 (fast straight on board camera view), 19:05 (east side upper route), 19:24 (east side), 19:30 (west side), 19:34 (east side), 19:55 (east side). What I couldn’t show you is the very interesting part of the route (the west part, the best part), and let it remain a surprise for you ;)

      I hope you like Baku, with and without F1 and I hope I could at least change your judging manner to the “let’s see” one :) :

      from Baku, with love,
      Sam Suleymanov

      1. Thanks Sam, at least gives us an impression of Baku and of the less interesting parts of the track.

        1. Oh, and the west part of the circuit that reminds Monaco a bit :) 0:00 – 1:35


  33. …and rumour has it that the 2020 European GP is to be held in Milton Keynes.

  34. Paul (@frankjaeger)
    7th October 2014, 23:54

    Forget these dreadfully boring street circuits. Why isn’t it plainly obvious that the F1 community wants winding tracks built on land with beautiful topography. There is only so much a street circuit can deliver, there’s a reason why they generally build cities on flat land

  35. Looks absolutely dreadful.

  36. Ok, I live in Baku and I think I can give you guys a few hints about the track.

    Judging by the “narrow uphill section at the old town wall” comment, I can say that this will be an anti-clockwise circuit. This uphill area is just to the east of the circlish part of the circuit and promises to be a very slow part due to how narrow the road is there.

    But I am really excited about the part after that. The elevation change is massive there. The road is wide there and it is all curvy and downhill, It should be fast and almost flatout up to the bottom part of the track. I believe that corner will be quite fast as well which leads to the the 2.2km straight (well, almost straight. The road is still quite wide, 6 lanes I think).

    At the end of the straight is the start/finish area. And that first sector is just plain awful. I am also worried about the bit where the two parts of the circuit merge into one street. Anyway, we will see how it goes.

    1. Very interesting thoughts, @leplep
      We can see how wide the proposed track could be outside the Puppet Theatre on Google Photosphere, but I can’t find anything of the “narrow, uphill” section Turn 7 to 8 (Aziz Aliyev St, I think). Can you suggest where we could see a photo of it?
      Actually, I’ve just realised that the road outside the Puppet Theatre will have to accommodate both parts of the track. Looks a bit narrow for two racing lanes.

      1. @timothykatz
        For the road outside the Puppet Theatre (Neftchilar prospekti), I have this photo online.
        You can see exactly where the two racing lines are gonna meet, and they will seperate just further down the road.

        For the narrow bit, I have found this photo, which I am not actually sure of.

        I am not currently in Baku, but I am planning to go there soon, and walk around through the streets of this track. Hopefully I can take some photos/videos and share it with you guys.

          1. I see why you are unsure about it, from the looks of it its VERY narrow to get all barriers in etc @leblep. Thanks for providing some looks to fill in an image of what it will look like

        1. @leblep Thank you!

      2. Here is Aziz Aliyev str. F1 cars will drive up through this narrow str. Is that even possible?

          1. Seems a stretch to go up there with an F1 car (tecpro barriers where that railing is?)
            Good thing rain is unlikely, I can’t imagine cars sliding around there on that surface (Would it need being tarmaqued-over for the race?)

          2. It makes the track at Pau look like a ten-lane autobahn! And this has been approved by the FIA?

  37. I don’t think anything nice can be said about this at all. It’s horrible. One straight makes up about a third of the track and another third is typical 90°, straight, 90°, straight nonsense. I swear Tilkes designs get worse every time, which just leaves me to wonder how he will top this fiasco next time. My only hope is that it goes the way of New Jersey. Oh and European Grand Prix? In Asia? Really?