Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Baku City Circuit

The Baku Circuit
Baku Circuit (minam23 /

As one of the newest stops in the F1 calendar, Baku has proved to be a huge success in its relatively short history. Situated right in the heart of Baku, the track runs through the streets of the old town and also within sectors that have been developed especially for this race. 

The warm and generally good weather that’s on offer at Baku makes it a popular stop for the drivers, whilst also having their abilities tested to the max. Whilst rainfall is often minimal at this time of year (April), the humid conditions can often put a tough test up for the drivers and also the cars. 

The circuit has obviously proved its worth and whilst its initial outing was hosting that of the European Grand Prix in 2016, for 2017 they got given the green light to host their own grand prix, now known as the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.


Swap Start/End

Circuit Info

Location Length Corners Capacity Year Opened
Baku, Azerbaijan 6.003km 20 18,500 2016

Circuit Layout

Azerbaijan Grand Prix Baku Circuit Map

The course measures just over 6km in total length, which makes it the second longest circuit on the tour, just behind that of Spa, Belgium. As a result, it does in fact make this the longest street circuit that’s ever been run in Formula 1. 

The course was designed by that of Hermann Tilke, who’s got a host of Grand Prix circuit designs already to his name. Whilst initial plans were set out to create a standalone circuit, just outside of the city centre, Tilke decided that they were able to use the natural beauty of the city centre to create a street circuit.

Due to the layout of the city centre, much of the hard work was already done in terms of design, but a few tweaks were needed in order to not only lengthen the course, but also provide access to certain parts of the city.

The feature of the circuit has to be that of the run up the old, narrow streets into the old town. It’s a fairly fast section as well, with absolutely no run off, which is a common trait of street circuits and often why they are so exciting. The gap measures just 7.6, which sounds a lot, but when travelling at over 100mph, it certainly makes you think. 

What Hilke was also able to do is not lose much of characteristics that make Formula 1 racing exciting. They actually run the course anti-clockwise, which is another reason why drivers are able to create more speed. They also include a 1.4 mile stretch of road that comes past the start finish line and past the grandstands at speeds of over 200mph. 

What’s been impressive to see from the course is just how well balanced it is. It offers your tight twisty corners that you would expect from street racing, but also allows cars to pass and overtakes to happen, which is a current gripe with that of the Monaco circuit that’s been the benchmark for street racing for some time. 

As the track is based on normal roads, the chance for fans to actually drive the streets and see exactly where certain parts of the race take place, especially in the narrow streets to the old town, has brought in a lot of business for the city of Baku. Even though it’s still early days for the host city, the early signs are more than promising providing they can keep the crowds interested. 

Recent Winners

YearDriverCarFastest Lap
2018 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:45.412
2017 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:43.441

Other Racing at Baku City Circuit

As the track is still less than 2 years old at the time of writing, there aren’t all that many other races that take place at the minute. But, they have already hosted the likes of the FIA Formula 2 series and the GP2 series, albeit on the same weekend as the Formula 1.

What Baku will need to do in order to see these numbers is work out a way in which they are able to open the course up more often, which logistically with street racing, is never easy. Lessons will likely be taken from Monaco and other street races around the world. 


The 6 km circuit in the city of Baku
The 6 km Circuit in the City of Baku (OpenStreetMap /

There were many eyebrows raised when it was announced that Baku would become a venue for Formula 1 racing. The main concern that people had was the poor human rights record that followed Azerbaijan. But, former F1 boss, Bernie Ecclestone, announced in 2013 that the race would likely be coming to the city in 2016 and plans were set afoot. 

The timeframe for the first race changed a few times in the lead up. The 2016 date was moved to 2015 due to the breach of contract from the Korean Grand Prix organisers. However, the date was moved again to 2016 when it was confirmed that the likelihood of the track being ready for then was unlikely. 

2016 European Grand Prix

2016 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
2016 European Grand Prix in Azerbaijan (Alan /

When the first race came in the European Grand Prix in 2016, there were massive safety concerns for the F1 drivers after several major crashes in the GP2 race had seen over half of the drivers either crash or retire. But, the F1 race went ahead and in that race only 4 people retired, all of which did so due to mechanical failures rather than crashes, ensuring that the track was indeed safe to drive. 

One of the main statements that was made before any testing had been done was that the track was going to be one of the fastest in the world. To be honest, many circuits state this, but when Valtteri Bottas set an unofficial top speed record of 375km/h, people really started to sit up and take note. 

In the opening race for the European Grand Prix, it was Nico Rosberg who came out on top, with Sebastian Vettel in second and Sergio Perez finishing third. The opening Azerbaijan Grand Prix saw the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo finish in first place, with Bottas second and Canadian Lance Stroll in third for his first podium in F1.