Find out more about the Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the Baku City Circuit, including race information and a destination guide for a visit to Baku
A new addition to the F1 calendar in 2016, the Baku City Circuit proved to be a unique challenge. The street circuit encompasses a number of 90-degree turns at the start of the lap, which may be uninspiring but lead to overtaking opportunities. Then follows the already-iconic section from Turn 8 to Turn 11, with the track narrowing to just 7.6 metres as it winds around the walls of the historic old town. From there, high speed sweeping corners lead to the challenging Turn 15, with downhill braking and only run-off if a driver bails out early. Dropping down to the coast, the left-handed Turn 16 then leads to a flat out stretch - punctuated by a number of kinks - which measures 2.2km and sees cars reaching in excess of 350kph.
Baku is the capital and the largest city of Azerbaijan, as well as the largest city on the Caspian Sea and of the Caucasus region. It is located on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsula, which projects into the Caspian Sea. At 28 metres below sea level Baku is the lowest lying national capital in the world and is home to approximately 3 million people.
Situated on the Great Silk Road, Azerbaijan is a rich and unique blend of both Eastern and Western cultures. The architecture around Baku carries Russian, Eastern European and Arabic influences - giving it the moniker of the ‘City of Contrasts’ - with the circuit taking in many of the landmarks. The pit and paddock area actually sits in front of the impressive Government House.
The city consists of two principal parts: the contemporary downtown area and the old Inner City (Icheri sheher). The Old City of Baku along with the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower were confirmed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2000, with the circuit circling the Old City from Turn 8 onwards. In here you’ll find a maze of narrow cobbled streets, ancient buildings and the courtyards surrounding the 12th century Maiden Tower and the ornate Palace of the Shirvanshahs, as well as a number of bars and restaurants.
Away from the track itself, the Heydar Aliyev Centre is home to concerts and exhibitions, while the skyline is dominated by the Flame Towers. If you’re willing to venture outside the city, then head to Yanar Dag - translated as the ‘Burning Mountain’ - which is an eternally burning fire fuelled by an underground pocket of natural gas. Just 27 km north of Baku downtown, it continuously vents flames of fire all year round, a process that has been going for around 1,000 years.
Baku’s café culture and social scene revolves around Baku Boulevard, which features a six-kilometre promenade of shops, restaurants, cafes, clubs and family friendly fairground rides. Here visitors can enjoy al fresco dining and cocktails in bar terraces overlooking the Caspian Sea.
Live music is a feature of the energetic and eclectic nightlife in the city. Visitors can experience homegrown rock bands, the ever-popular karaoke bars, Baku’s unique jazz or some traditional mugam folk music. Bars, clubs and discos are open till late in the morning, especially during weekends. Most nightclubs have sprung up in the last decade or so after the influx of oil industry expatriates.
HOW TO GET THERE
Heydar Aliyev International Airport is 25km east of Baku, and only accessible by road. Aside from hiring a car, you’ll find the iconic London Black Cab readily available, while the Baku Bus H1 express connects the airport with two metro stations - 28 May and Koroglu - running every 30 minutes. Of those two stations, 28 May is closest to the circuit, with a 20 minute walk or a short taxi ride down to the pit straight. Uber is also available in Baku.