Formula 1’s race promoters are attempting to avoid a repeat of the last-minute Australian Grand Prix cancellation that was an “absolute disaster”.
That’s the view of Baku City Circuit’s executive director Arif Rahimov, who yesterday announced that the Azerbaijan Grand Prix will be postponed, leaving the Canadian Grand Prix on June 14 as the current earliest race on the original F1 2020 calendar. Baku’s decision came as a result of needing to start work building the track along with additional lockdown measures being imposed on Monday night, and Rahimov says all of the races can point to the example of Australia as reason to make an early decision.
“When you have a precedent it’s easier to work with everyone, because everyone understands the pain that you’re going through,” Rahimov told RACER. “I really want to say that I think no promoter should be in a situation that the Australian promoters have been in, and I really feel sorry for Andy Westacott (Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO) and his team.
“I think it’s absolutely terrible what he had to go through, and cancelling the event last-minute is a disaster for the promoter. There’s so much effort being put into a race like this. Australia is also a temporary circuit, so I believe they spend a lot of time, money and energy building up the circuit, and then making the decision last-minute that you have to cancel the race is an absolute disaster. This is really something that I think every promoter wants to avoid right now.
“Obviously having all these races postponed, having this terrible precedent in Australia, it doesn’t make things easier, but it makes it more logical when you’re trying to explain your position to your counter party.”
From Baku’s perspective, Rahimov says the race organizers pushed back the start date for the track build in order to give itself as much time as possible to make a decision on its race before work needed to begin.
“We made the call before we built any of the track,” he said. “It was one of the primary points of our internal deadline that we’ve set. We really wanted to make sure that we don’t incur any unnecessary expenses. It would be a complete disaster if we had to spend all the money to build up the circuit but then not actually race on it.
“So our deadline to start building up the circuit was the middle of March, we postponed it by a week to make the decision on the race and obviously we made the decision on the last day when we had to start building the circuit. Otherwise we would waste some money, which wouldn’t be ideal, obviously.”