Azerbaijan asks Liberty for better deal from 2021

The Azerbaijan GP organisers have asked Formula 1 chiefs for a reduction in the race sanction fee it pays from 2021 onwards.

The event currently pays one of the biggest fees of any race on the calendar, a move that was necessary to convince Bernie Ecclestone to give it his blessing and convince the F1 teams that Baku would be financially worthwhile.

Ecclestone agreed a 10-year deal, with a break clause after five years.

Having run three races thus far, Azerbaijan is committed to the current arrangements for the next two years, which will see out the first half of the original contract.

However, it wants to have a more favourable deal for the second five-year term from 2021 to 2025.

The push for a better price comes in the wake of a similar move from Hockenheim, whose contract to host the German GP in alternate seasons ends this year, and the news that the Miami GP will have a new style of risk and revenue sharing deal.

"We have a contract which is a binding contract for five years, for five races, starting in 2016," said Azerbaijan promoter Arif Rahimov. "Neither of us can break it unless we agree to break it.

"We haven't triggered the break clause. We're negotiating on the second part of the contract. We all know we need to improve bits, so we're trying hard to make sure that it's good for us and good for F1."

Since Liberty came on board, more information about what races pay has emerged, and thus promoters have a better idea of what other events typically pay,

"In general we want to be close to the average. Now that it's public information I think everyone knows what the average is," added Rahimov.

"You have a few outliers to remove from both ends, statistically speaking, but obviously we want to be close in that mid-range of flyaway races.

"We cannot just take the average of all the races, because European races pay less for a lot of reasons, starting from logistics and cost of operation etc.

"But we do definitely want to be there in the average of the flyaway races, That's not the only thing we're discussing with FOM, it's most of the other commercial terms in the contract too. They want to try a new approach, it's a bi-lateral effort to make it viable for all of us.

"We will try to get it sorted before the end of June, so I think we'll come to some agreement. Obviously I'm asking for an improvement which is eating into their profits, it's quite obvious."

Rahimov was keen to dispel rumours that the arrival of the Miami GP in 2019 could lead to Azerbaijan being dropped to make way, with some even suggesting that the Baku pit and paddock infrastructure would be shipped to Florida.

"If Miami comes in it can come in and all the other races can stay there. It's up to 22 races anyways.

"I think it was just a rumour, I don't know how this rumour got spread, because it made no sense from the beginning. I guess they're going to release the draft calendar this month of next month.

"We're going to be in this calendar, and I guess it's going to sort out most of the questions."

Azerbaijan is also keen to return to June in 2019 after this year's race was switched to April.

"We want to move back to June. It takes us a while to set up the circuit, it takes us three or four months, and if we are in April we have to start in the winter, and you have adverse weather, rain and wind and everything that stops you working efficiently, so we definitely want to move it to June."

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