Plans to return the Azerbaijan Grand Prix to a June date slot in 2020 have been “complicated” by Baku’s hosting of the UEFA European Football Championship next year, according to promoter Arif Rahimov.

Baku’s first two F1 races were held in June before switching to an April slot last year to avoid clashing with celebrations marking Azerbaijan’s centenary as a republic. Despite hopes of returning to a June date for 2019, the race retained its April billing.

Speaking on Thursday in Baku, Rahimov said that while a return to a June date was still preferred, the staging of four UEFA Euro 2020 games in the city next year could make any switch difficult to accomplish.

“It’s a bit complicated for us, specifically for next year because we’re hosting the three group games and one quarter-final for the European football championship in June,” Rahimov said.

“We want to be in June as well, so we’re trying to figure out if there is a slot where we can fit in.

“We would want to move back to June. The weather is a bit more predictable, the build-up is easier, you have less winds, less rains. It’s warmer overall. But we’ll see.”

Baku will host three Euro 2020 Group A matches at its 68,000-seater Olympic Stadium on June 13, June 17 and June 21 next year, before hosting the last quarter-final match on July 4.

Rahimov said finding a slot either before the start of the competition or in the gap between the group stages and quarter-final matches could make a June switch workable for the grand prix.

“We would love to have something either in-between or before the games, just to make sure it doesn’t clash,” Rahimov said.

“We won’t be able to host as many people who actually want to attend the race, and then it will create all kinds of difficulties for the football fan zone, so we’re working with the federation and working with UEFA to make sure everything works.

Rahimov added that if any date change were to agreed upon for Baku, it would be up to F1 officials to manage the logistical challenge of putting the race amidst a run of events in mainland Europe.

“F1 needs to really sort out how they move things from one race to another,” Rahimov said.

“We are a flyaway race and traditionally there were no flyaways and drive-tos back-to-back.

“I don’t know if they are going to arrange something different for next year to help this happen but I think it’s time to start thinking about it.

“If we are looking at 22-24 races on the calendar, then you have to be prepared for all kinds of different scenarios.”

Planning the 2020 F1 calendar has been further complicated by the addition of a new grand prix in Vietnam, which is due to take place next April.

Additional reporting by Julianne Cerasoli.

Comments

Loading Comments...