F1: Briatore hypes up Baku, while Bernie shoots down Magny-Cours

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Former Benetton and Renault team boss Flavio Briatore (pictured, left, with his wife at last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix) was a driving force in bringing Formula One to Azerbaijan in 2015, and the Italian is keen to push the country’s capital of Baku as a tremendous setting for a Grand Prix.

“It’s very close to Europe, the city is amazing – it’s like a little Dubai,” Briatore told Reuters in Monte Carlo. “And more importantly, everything is new.

“The heart of the town is renovated completely so you have the flavor of the old days and of the oil money. The hotels are amazing, the facilities for your guys is super. It’s very nice.”

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone confirmed earlier this month that a deal has been signed with officials in Azerbaijan. The street race in Baku will be a direct replacement for the Korean Grand Prix, which has been dropped from the calendar along with the Indian Grand Prix.

Meanwhile, it appears that those hoping for a return of the French Grand Prix will be disappointed.

The country currently boasts three F1 drivers in Romain Grosjean, Jean-Eric Vergne, and Jules Bianchi, but has not had its own Grand Prix since 2008.

The French round had run at Magny-Cours, and recent French media reports have said that the track’s head was in negotiations with Formula One Management about reviving the race next year.

But Ecclestone has coolly shot down that prospect. When asked about going back to France, he replied: “No.”

“They’ll knock at the door but I don’t think we can do anything,” he added to Reuters.

Daniel Ricciardo would relish being Lewis Hamilton’s teammate

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BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Daniel Ricciardo says he would relish the challenge of having Lewis Hamilton as his teammate if he joins Mercedes next year.

Ricciardo is out of contract at Red Bull at the end of the season and expressed interest in joining teams like Mercedes or Ferrari to help him challenge for the championship.

The Australian says he would “love to obviously be challenged against the best and Lewis is obviously up there.”

He adds: “I don’t want to say it’s just Lewis I’m looking for but that would be a good challenge.”

Ricciardo says he won’t accept a faster car if it means playing second fiddle to an established star.

He says “there’s always been really good clarity and fairness (at Red Bull) … and I would expect that environment everywhere.”