Azerbaijan to host Grand Prix of Europe from 2016

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In the same week that Bernie Ecclestone confirmed Formula 1’s return to Mexico in 2015, a second new race for the schedule has also been revealed today with the return of the European Grand Prix.

The ‘Grand Prix of Europe’ will take place in Azerbaijan from 2016 at a street circuit in the nation’s capital, Baku.

The race has been widely speculated for some time, but the deal was officially confirmed by Azerbaijan sport minister Azad Rahimov today.

“I am delighted to officially announce that we have signed a contract to bring Formula 1 racing to Baku in 2016,” Rahimov said.

“Our location at the crossroads of eastern Europe and western Asia is a new frontier for Formula 1 racing. Azerbaijan is a modern European country that has established a reputation as a centre of sporting excellence.

“The deal to bring Formula 1 racing to Baku is a very significant new chapter in our ongoing success to attract the world’s largest sporting events to our country.”

Baku may not appear to have a reputation for motorsport, but it has hosted the Baku World Challenge – a race for GT cars – for the past two years. This has taken place during fall, but it is unclear when the grand prix will take place.

Bernie Ecclestone was delighted to confirm the news, saying: “We are very happy that Baku has joined the Formula 1 family. This will be a street race, which will pass through interesting and picturesque parts of Baku. The event will meet the current Formula 1 criteria.”

With the addition of Mexico and Azerbaijan, the provisional count for the calendar in 2016 is 21 grands prix. Currently, there is a limit of 20, but the if the teams agreed then this could be waived.

Ecclestone revealed earlier this week that the Grand Prix of America in New Jersey will take place in 2016 at the very earliest, but only if everything is in order at Port Imperial.

Kanaan, Dixon to rejoin Chip Ganassi Le Mans effort

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Both Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan will be rejoining Ford Chip Ganassi Racing as part of their four-car armada at the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans, the team revealed late last week. Both drivers contested the event last year, with Dixon in the No. 69 entry – finishing seventh in the GTE Pro class – while Kanaan replaced an injured Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 68 – finishing sixth in GTE Pro.

For Kanaan, this also represents a return to the Chip Ganassi organization, with which he contested the Verizon IndyCar Series from 2014 to 2017 before departing for A.J. Foyt Racing in 2018.

Kanaan will join Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell in the No. 67, while Dixon will reunite with Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook, the three drivers having won the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, in the No. 69.

Stefan Mücke, Olivier Pla, and Billy Johnson will share the No. 66 entry, with Joey Hand, Dirk Müller, and Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 68.

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