Organisers of Formula 1’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix say their event has a mid-October cut-off date for 2020, and hope to run the round before mid-September.
Azerbaijan joined the Formula 1 calendar in a June slot in 2016 and for 2018 moved to an April date on the schedule, before reverting to its desired June position this year.
However its grand prix is currently one of seven on the 2020 calendar that have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Formula 1 is planning a return to on-track action in Austria, in July, followed by a round in Britain, and still hopes to run 15-18 races, concluding with events in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi in December.
Formula 1’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix takes place around the streets of capital city Baku, and organisers remain hopeful of slotting their event into the 2020 calendar.
“We are in close contact with the Government of Azerbaijan, F1 and other stakeholders,” Baku City Circuit Executive Director Arif Rahimov told MotorsportWeek.com.
“At this moment in time, while we are keen to host a race in 2020, we obviously can’t commit to running the race later in the year until the situation with COVID-19 becomes clearer and the world returns back to close to how we remember it prior to the pandemic.
“We have agreed with F1 that the race should not be postponed until after mid-October.
“We truly care about our fans and value their experience so we would want them to be able to enjoy amazing weather in Baku during the race weekend.”
Rahimov acknowledged the added complications involved in trying to organise a city-based event but believes the infrastructure can be arranged in a shorter timeframe if required.
“Usually we programme our construction activities to start 13-14 weeks prior to the race weekend,” he explained.
“In the current situation, however, we could try to reduce this to 11-12 weeks, which would involve a more intensive construction schedule.
“If we were in a position to hold the race in a period between early/mid-September to mid-October, then I would be very positive that we can achieve this target, given the fact that most of the construction work would be completed in the summer [during the best weather].
“The fact that we are running the race on the streets of the city adds to the complication – as it does to any street circuit. As such, it would ideally be great to try to run the race before the schools restart after the summer break on September 15th.”
Formula 1 is planning to hold two races apiece in Austria and Britain across successive weekends, but Rahimov cautioned that such a timetable would not be possible in Azerbaijan.
“In the event that we can stage a race this year, we certainly do not expect to make any changes to the race format, and this has never been discussed with F1,” he said.
“I also don’t believe it would be possible to run races in Baku over several weekends as it would involve causing too much inconvenience to our residents due to the fact that the circuit is located right in the heart of the city.”