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Formula One Returns to Track and Stands in Baku

By Ilham Karimli June 10, 2022

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The slogan of this year’s race is “F1 returns: to track and to stands!” marking the return of the fans to the stands in Baku after Covid-19 restrictions / Courtesy

The 2022 edition of the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix kicked off today in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku. The slogan of this year’s race is “F1 returns: to track and to stands!” marking the return of the fans to the stands in Baku after Covid-19 restrictions.

The Grand Prix began on June 10 afternoon with the first practice at 3 pm Baku time before a second hour-long session at 6 pm. On June 11, the third practice is scheduled for 3 pm ahead of qualifying at 6 pm. The race will take place from 3 pm to 5 pm on June 12.

The pole position will be decided on June 11, as Baku will not host a sprint race this year.

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is the eighth round of the F1 races on the 2022 calendar.

Max Verstappen of the team Red Bull currently leads the driver’s championship race with 125 points. Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is only nine points behind with 116, while Sergio Perez ranks third with 110 points.

“If anything, Baku is two tracks in one, the first sector a combination of long straights and heavy braking 90-degree corners followed by a second sector that is tight and twisty – with one turn threading its way through a 7.6m-wide strip of asphalt in Baku’s old town,” F1 official website wrote.

“It’s a tough one to tame, as most of the drivers on the grid have experienced in years gone by, not least 2022’s two leading protagonists Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, who have a usually disappointing record on the 6km, 20-turn track.”

Last year’s race in Baku staged a final lap drama between Sergio Perez and his teammate Verstappen with Perez claiming the title after a spectacular tire failure hitting the latter’s racecar.

Officials at Red Bull say this year’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix will be the ultimate test for its Drag Reduction System (DRS) fixes, with the street circuit featuring several long straights, including a 2.2-kilometer high-speed lane to the braking zone at Turn 1. In the sixth round of the races in Spain on May 20-22, Red Bull’s engineers applied a permanent solution to the DRS malfunction issue suffered by Max Verstappen.

The first Formula One Grand Prix was held in Azerbaijan as the European Grand Prix in 2016. A year later, in 2017, Baku City Circuit hosted the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The following episodes of the race in the country took place in April 2018 and April 2019. In 2020, the tournament was postponed in a joint decision by the officials at BCC, FIA, and the government of Azerbaijan due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, the F1 race in Baku took place without an audience. 

The Baku City Circuit racetrack runs through several major streets of Baku, close to the main promenade along the Caspian Sea. Along with many long straights that make it the “fastest street circuit in the world,” the Baku circuit challenges the drivers with an extremely narrow section next to the Old City walls, a historical site in the center of Baku. Measured 6.003 kilometers in length, the Baku City Circuit is the second-longest on the current F1 calendar after Spa Francorchamps (7.004km) in Belgium.