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.

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
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Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.