Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 4
By Elmira Tariverdiyeva, Maksim Tsurkov - Trend:
Formula One's first race in Azerbaijan will be the speediest among street circuits in the season, Arif Rahimov, the chief executive of Baku City Circuit Operations Company, which is organizing Formula One's first race in Azerbaijan, said in an interview with New York Times.
"Everything is going according to the schedule," he said. "We have a master plan for every function of the organization of the race. We are tracking it on a weekly basis to make sure that everything is going right. On some points we are actually ahead of schedule. We are really active and fully mobilized and working full speed."
Rahimov said that organizing of Formula One differs from the Eurovision Song Contest and the European Games.
"Obviously all of these big events have different markets and the market of F1 is very unique," he said. "You get very high-end spectators, very good crowds, on TV and at the races as tourists. Apart from that, I think the visibility that F1 gives you is incomparable to Eurovision and the Games. We have done a good job hosting the Games and we have done a good job developing the Games as a brand, and that is something that never existed before. Whereas Formula One, for example, is an existing brand. You don't need to promote Formula One as a brand because it is already self-promoted."
Rahimov said that there is a fan club in Azerbaijan.
"It is not huge," he said. "The sport is new in Azerbaijan. We don't have any permanent tracks. So there is no huge interest in the sport at the moment, but we are really working to improve it. We are doing a lot of stuff in schools with the kids to try to promote the sport to them, to explain to them what Formula One is."
Rahimov said that as we are a street circuit, we are looking at other street circuits.
"There are only two that are very relevant: Singapore and Monaco," he said. "It's really a combination of the old and new parts of Baku. You get the brand-new skyscraper buildings, like the Flame Towers and all the glazed new-style buildings, as well as all of the older architecture, like the beginning-of-the-20th-century French architecture. And then you go around the old city walls, which are medieval, 16th-, 17th-century walls of the Unesco-protected old city. And this combination makes our circuit very unique. It makes it look very beautiful. We have some very tight sections, barely eight meters across. That is also going uphill, and that is the corner on the side of the old city wall. It looks absolutely gorgeous. We have a very fast section along the main promenade, with a top speed of over 340 k.p.h. And the fact that we are a city circuit with an average speed of 210 k.p.h. makes it the fastest city circuit on the calendar."
Rahimov said that it is called as the European Grand Prix as we are positioning ourselves as a European country.
"This title was free at the time, after Valencia left the calendar, and we specifically asked for that title," he said. "If you talk to people, if you just feel the atmosphere in the city, it is a European mentality with all of its openness. Maybe geographically, Azerbaijan is half in Europe and half in Asia."
Rahimov said that other events are planned around the race.
"We want to create a big event with a lot of entertainment, with a lot of surprises, star appearances, etc.," he said.
Formula One's first race in Azerbaijan will be held on June 17-19, 2016.