BAKU, Azerbaijan, Mar. 30
Baku City Circuit suffered no direct financial loss as of now from postponing of 2020 F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Baku City Circuit (BCC) Boss and Race Promoter Arif Rahimov said, Trend reports with reference to Motorsport Network website.
Rahimov said that setting up a street circuit is a huge operation, and he knew that a definitive call had to be made before any work started and bills had to be paid.
“We had to make the decision now. Because we’re certainly not a circuit that can make the decision late, because we need to set it up, and we need a bit of time to do that. It takes from two to three months just to get the circuit ready. I’m not even talking about all the commercial aspects, the spectator entertainment aspects, that are more artist related. These things we can’t do at the last minute,” he said.
Rahimov said that plans within BCC’s masterplan included start of setting up the circuit by Mar. 15.
“So with the turn of events we decided to postpone it one week, and in that week there was a lot of back and forth between ourselves and F1 and the government of Azerbaijan trying to figure out what was going to happen. We went through all the different scenarios, and then we decided to stop,” he said.
Rahimov also noted that while the event is government-backed and a key annual promotional tool for both the country and the city, the politicians had other priorities – even if there was still a chance that it could take place on Jun. 7, it obviously wasn’t the right time to be promoting it.
“We had to make a decision, with all the government advice, which actually switched from advice to decrees by the cabinet ministers to introduce the preventative actions that would not allow us to host a race. That was the final dot above the ‘i’ to make sure that we need to postpone the race until further notice,” Rahimov said.
He added that there were some orders to make, but these are things that could be used next year or at a later stage if the race was coming up later.
“But all the expenses that we would have incurred that would have been just a waste, they haven’t happened. So we haven’t incurred any direct financial loss as of now,” he said.
Baku has joined the other postponed races in waiting for news on an alternative date and Rahimov says there’s some flexibility.
“We’ve already had the race in April and June [in the past]. The critical thing in Azerbaijan particularly is the schools, if it’s the school season. That’s what influences the race date the most. However, we had races in April when there was still school, so we’ve seen both cases. It would probably be a bit tougher to have a race just at the beginning of the school season, which is September 15th. However, I think there are a lot more complications involved in setting up the calendar, so we’re trying to provide as much flexibility as we can,” Rahimov said.
However, that doesn’t extend to running the race in the winter months, and Rahimov insists that he’s not yet been given a heads-up on possible alternatives.
“We cannot have the new date until things clear up, we can’t just speculate on a new date. That’s quite logical, and it wasn’t a debate, it was something that we put on the table and everyone agreed with it. It’s not just us, I think they agreed with all the other promoters whose races have been postponed, we’re not going to speculate about the date, we can only set the date when the situation with COVID-19 is clear,” he added.
Rahimov said that there is very unfortunately no way to know about it and expressed hope that it’s going to clear up by the summer.
“It’s a matter of when it will clear up, if we can see the downturn in early June that’s one thing, but if it stays with us until the end of August, it’s definitely going to be a no-go for our race. We cannot postpone it as late as November,” he added.
Rahimov said that for the moment, the company remains committed to hosting the race within 2020, although he concedes that it may have to be a scaled down event, with fewer sideshows for fans such as live concerts.
“Even allowing for that, it’s not going to be easy to host the race on a new date. It is extremely complicated, but I think there are more complicated things happening in the world right now. This is one of the side effect of the pandemic. But given that the whole world is in this situation, I think the expectation for the race will be a little bit lower,” he said.