Bernie Ecclestone has said that a deal has been signed with officials in Azerbaijan to take Formula 1 to the capital city of Baku in 2015.
The 83-year-old chief of Formula 1 first expressed an interest in holding a race – most probably the European Grand Prix – at the seaside city in March. Now, a deal has reportedly been signed, and the event will be a direct replacement for the Korean Grand Prix.
“I don’t want to go back there,” Ecclestone told The Independent. “They did a good job with the track but what they forgot to do was build all the things they wanted to build.”
The circuit at Yeongam was located some 4 hours from the capital of Seoul, and plans to build a city around the complex failed to come to fruition. In fact, the most notable event of the four races that took place in Korea was the appearance of the fire marshal’s truck mid-way through last year’s race.
The Indian Grand Prix was also dropped for 2014, but it is thought to still be in the running for an early season slot on the 2015 calendar. However, F1 will never return to Korea, and instead Ecclestone is looking to the future in Azerbaijan.
“Baku has been signed,” he said. “It will start in 2015 and will replace Korea.”
Azerbaijan may seem like an odd location for a grand prix, but other motorsport events have been hosted in Baku such as the FIA GT World Championship.
F1’s global expansion knows no bounds, but the future of the proposed Grand Prix of America in New Jersey and the Mexican Grand Prix is still unknown. Both races claim to have deals to feature on the 2015 calendar, but quite whether they get there is another story.
Likewise, for Baku, it might be a case of holding fire until 2016 to give time for plans to be formulated. Either way, it’s best for us to sharpen up on our Azerbaijani ahead of Formula 1’s next new event.