Baku wanted to avoid Aus GP ‘disaster’

Michelle Foster
Ferrari 2019

2019 Ferrari engine challenge "annoyed" Mercedes.

Baku made an early call to postpone the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as the race organisers wanted to avoid the “disaster” that befell the Australian GP.

The season-opening Australian Grand Prix was cancelled at the 11th hour as fans stood outside the circuit on the Friday morning, waiting to get inside to watch FP1.

Like Melbourne, the Baku circuit makes use of public roads with temporary facilities that have to be erected prior to the grand prix.

The Australian GP was left with the cost of putting together a grand prix but no grand prix.

Baku City Circuit’s executive director Arif Rahimov says they decided to postpone their race two months before its scheduled date to avoid a similar fate.

“When you have a precedent it’s easier to work with everyone, because everyone understands the pain that you’re going through,” Rahimov told RACER.

“I really want to say that I think no promoter should be in a situation that the Australian promoters have been in, and I really feel sorry for Andy Westacott (Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO) and his team.

“I think it’s absolutely terrible what he had to go through, and cancelling the event last-minute is a disaster for the promoter.

“There’s so much effort being put into a race like this. Australia is also a temporary circuit, so I believe they spend a lot of time, money and energy building up the circuit, and then making the decision last-minute that you have to cancel the race is an absolute disaster.

“This is really something that I think every promoter wants to avoid right now.

“Obviously having all these races postponed, having this terrible precedent in Australia, it doesn’t make things easier, but it makes it more logical when you’re trying to explain your position to your counter party.”

He added: “We made the call before we built any of the track. It was one of the primary points of our internal deadline that we’ve set.

“We really wanted to make sure that we don’t incur any unnecessary expenses. It would be a complete disaster if we had to spend all the money to build up the circuit but then not actually race on it.

“So our deadline to start building up the circuit was the middle of March, we postponed it by a week to make the decision on the race and obviously we made the decision on the last day when we had to start building the circuit. Otherwise we would waste some money, which wouldn’t be ideal, obviously.”

With Baku postponed, Canada is now the first race on the calendar with the grand prix scheduled for June 14.

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