Controversial Formula 1 to remain in Azerbaijan for at least 3 more years
Formula 1 has extended its contract with Baku, thus ensuring that the Azerbaijan Grand Prix will be part of the F1 calendar until at least 2023.
The contract was originally signed for five years and was due to expire in 2020.
Baku first hosted the F1 Grand Prix in 2016. The season’s events are set for the end of April.
How much does the country really benefit from Formula 1?
Back in 2017 on the eve of the upcoming races, Formula 1 organiser Nigar Arpadarai said that “the race was initially viewed as a business project aimed at promoting Azerbaijan among the half a billion F-1 audience around the world, and attracting spectators to the country as tourists”.
Independent economist Natiq Jafarli dismissed the efficacy of the idea, and said it is impossible to attract tourists to the country through large events alone, and that it requires more serious measures.
There are still ongoing debates about whether or not Formula 1 holds at least some value for Azerbaijan – financial or at least image-related.
What do citizens think?
Bakuvians are also arguing about the issue.
The races are held in the heart of Baku, which results in streets and pedestrian walkways blocked off for large amounts of time during the races.
This is the main reason why many in Baku dislike Formula 1, and every year await the grand prix of Azerbaijan as one would a minor ‘natural disaster’.
Here’s how social media users have reacted to the news of the extended F1 contract:
“This was all we were missing for complete and utter joy!”
“If only they didn’t close down the roads… let F1 sign a contract forever.”
“This means that again the taxpayers’ money will go to the stupid games, again they will damage the asphalt, put up huge barriers and so on, and, as a result, the standard of living will decrease.”
There were also more optimistic commentators:
“Jobs will be created, thus I do not see anything wrong. Hotels will be filled with tourists. I am for it!”