Azerbaijan set for twilight F1 race, will start as Le Mans finishes

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The European Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan is set to start at 6pm local time in June just as the 24 Hours of Le Mans finishes.

With less than five months to go until Formula 1 ventures to Azerbaijan for the first time, more details about the race are becoming known including a provisional schedule.

For the first time since 2011, Le Mans will clash with a grand prix this June, preventing Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg from defending his title at the Circuit de la Sarthe with Porsche.

The FIA said previously that although it regretted the date clash, it would ensure that the race in Azerbaijan started following the conclusion of Le Mans.

Technically, this has been achieved – both the finish of Le Mans and the start of the European Grand Prix are set for 9am ET on June 19 (3pm local time in Le Mans, 6pm in Baku).

However, there will be a direct clash between the start of the 24-hour race and qualifying in Azerbaijan, with both again set to begin at 9am ET.

The weekend schedule released also reveals that the GP2 Series will be present in Baku, likely to make up for the omission of Bahrain at the beginning of the support championship’s 2016 calendar.

The organizers of the race were forced to issue a statement earlier this week responding to speculation that the event was at risk of not going ahead due to the ongoing oil price crash and a recent devaluation of the local currency.

“The devaluation of the manat will have no impact with regards to the staging of the first ever Formula One race in Azerbaijan,” Baku City Circuit said.

“When the budget for the Grand Prix of Europe was approved, it was initially calculated in US dollars. As a result, we are not expecting any changes to the current event budget.”

The race in Baku is set to be the first European Grand Prix since the 2012 edition was held in Valencia, Spain.