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SBD Global/May 2, 2014/Events and Attractions

Baku, Azerbaijan To Welcome Formula 1 With Country's First Grand Prix Next Year

Azerbaijan has "confirmed that the country will host its first Formula One grand prix next year," according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. The capital city of Baku will "provide the stage for a race in new territory for the sport." With Russia lined up for a grand prix in October, F1 "continues its surge" eastward into "former Soviet regions." Azerbaijan is "one of the most ambitious countries in the area with a series of major international sporting events scheduled, all paid for by the country's oil riches." Azerbaijan sports ministry spokesperson Samya Mammadova "gave the first confirmation from Baku." She said, "Formula One will be held in Baku in autumn 2015." That puts "F1 on schedule for at least 20 races next season" (LONDON TIMES, 5/1). The AP's James Ellingworth reported Mammadova said that the race will be held "shortly after Baku hosts the inaugural European Games multi-sports event in June." Baku has "hosted sports-car racing on a street circuit every year" since '12. Mammadova "declined to say whether the same city-center track would be used for the F1 race, saying only that the venue would be announced later this month." Azerbaijan has been keen to "establish itself as a sporting power in recent years." The country submitted bids to host the 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympics but was "eliminated on both occasions before the final vote" (AP, 5/1). In Baku, Nigar Orujova reported the race "may be called the 'European Grand Prix' and will take place on the streets of Baku." Baku has recently gained "some experiences in holding large-scale racing competitions." The city hosted the FIA GT Series season finale on Nov. 22-24, 2013. Baku also "hosted its first racing Baku City Challenge" in Oct. '12 (AZERNEWS, 4/30).
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