Baku pushing for date change to avoid Le Mans clash
Baku's Formula 1 chiefs are pushing for a date change for next year's race to avoid a clash with Le Mans, as they await news from the FIA on whether they can rename their event as the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
The date of next year's race will once again controversially clash with the Le Mans 24 Hours, and Baku's promoter Arif Rahimov has no doubts that his event suffered last year by running on the same weekend as the endurance classic.
With the FIA set to confirm the 2017 calendar during a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Vienna next week, Rahimov made it clear he wants the provisional June 18 slot moved.
Speaking in Abu Dhabi, Rahimov said: "My personal position is that we are not entirely happy with this date. We missed a lot of press coverage due to Le Mans.
"I still think in the motorsport world we were on top of the priority and watch list this year in June, but obviously we want to have more. If we manage to change the date, so not clashing with the [Le Mans] date, it will be more exposure."
Rahimov added that the other thing Baku did not like was being as the second race of a back-to-back with Canada, which was logistically difficult for everybody because of the distance involved and the time difference.
"The time difference works against us," he said. "To be honest we haven't discussed changing the date with Canada, but we want to move it forwards a little bit.
"It is a logistical nightmare for ourselves as well – we have six jumbo jets to unload on the Tuesday. That is 900 tonnes of cargo in 24 hours to bring to the circuit. We did it, and F1 cargo was happy with what we did, but it is a tough job."
The Baku race has been provisionally awarded the European GP moniker, but Rahimov said he was still awaiting official confirmation of the changes.
"It is still in the negotiating process but we are trying to get there," he said. "We will hopefully know for sure by the beginning of next month...There are a lot of issues that need to be sorted out before we can change to the GP of Azerbaijan."
Additional reporting by Oleg Karpov
Don’t miss our Abu Dhabi GP video preview…
Bite-size tech: Toro Rosso airbox pipework
Abu Dhabi GP: Hamilton stays ahead of Rosberg in FP2 – but only just