To everyone’s joy, Formula One returns to Azerbaijan this weekend. The Baku City Circuit has become famous over its short history for its many quirks and interesting facts – as well as amazing racing. At first, the Baku City Circuit didn’t even host the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as, for its first race in 2016, it hosted the European Grand Prix!
Written by Bruna Brito, Edited by Aiden Hover
Baku itself, the capital of Azerbaijan, is the lowest capital city in the world as it sits 28 meters (91.8 ft) below sea level. This feat only adds to the drama of the track as it boasts a top speed of 350 km/h and plenty of overtakes to suit – averaging around 50% more than most races in any given season. Despite the two super long DRS (Drag Reduction System) zones, much of the overtaking takes place at different points of the track due to its wide range of corners.
Nearby to the circuit is the location of the record-breaking national flag square. Standing at over 162 meters (531 ft) tall, it has a Guinness world record marking it as the third tallest flagpole in the world as it stands proud next to the beautiful Casiapn sea.
The narrowest point of the Baku City Circuit is a nail-biting 7.6 meters wide (25 ft) as it twists through the tight castle section around the Old City. This point has become synonymous amongst F1 fans, thanks in no small part to Charles Leclerc. It was here where the young Monegasque driver uttered the famous phrase, ‘I am stupid,’ as he threw away a major shot at Pole Position in 2019. This narrow section of the track is in stark contrast to the whopping 2.2km straight that helps form the 6.003km circuit – making it the second-longest track on the calendar.
Aside from the strange quirks of such a wild street circuit, Baku holds some very strange statistics with regards to its Grand Prix finishing order. Despite having only competed in one race in Baku, Nico Roberg has led the most laps around the track with 51. Valtteri Bottas is second on that list with 49. This goes to show how dominant Mercedes has been around this venue, winning three out of the four races held. They won in 2016, 2018 and 2019. Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo, the only non-Mercedes winner, won the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix from 10th on the grid, the lowest starting position of any previous winner. Furthermore, the two titans of the modern era, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are the only two drivers to have scored on every visit to the track – despite their controversial collision in 2017.
In a different vein, at least one Russian driver has competed in every race here – yet not one has finished the race. Can Nikita Mazepin be the first? Find out this Sunday for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.