Home  //  Circuit Guides Formula 1 Azerbaijan (Baku)
Written by @Damien_Marquez   
Tuesday, 17 April 2018 08:18

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix takes place in Baku, the capital city of this resource rich country situated at the border of Europe and Asia, on the coast the Caspian Sea. The street circuit is picturesque, the track narrow in places and the races can be unpredictable.



Icheri Sheher Grandstand - Photo: Zak Mauger/Williams


Entertainment line up for 2018 includes Jamiroquai, Afrojack, Christina Aguilera, Axwell & Ingrosso, Dua Lipa and Martin Solveig who will all be performing at the Crystal Hall once on track activities are over for the day. The Formula 2 series remains the support category.


The grand prix in Baku is the opportunity for an extended city break that packs in a lot of sights, culture and food of one of the lesser-know destination on the F1 calendar.

 

CONTENTS

1 // Location and accommodation
2 // Money matters
3 // Ticket prices
4 // Where to watch from
5 // Tips and recommendations
6 // Useful links to prepare your trip to Baku



1 // LOCATION AND ACCOMMODATION


Baku is a relatively new destination as far as Formula 1 is concerned, in a part of the world that is not widely known to the western world. The street circuit is in the city centre. It runs parallel to the Bulvar, a south facing promenade on the Caspian seafront, and around the fortified wall of Icheri Sheher, the Old City.


The Heydar Aliyev International Airport is a 30-minute bus or taxi ride from the city centre where most hotels can be found. Once checked-in, most points of interest are within walking distance although Baku has a metro system and an extensive bus network. The longest distance you'll walk is from the main Absheron grandstand to Baku's Crystal Palace if you opt for this scenic route along the coast line.


There are multiple hotels in and around the circuit. You may also want to have a look on Airbnb for a more immersive experience.



Pit straight - Image: Force India Formula One Team Limited


2 // MONEY MATTERS


The cost of flying in to Baku from Europe, North America and the Pacific can be prohibitive but this is partially offset by relatively low ticket prices and daily expenses.


Return airfares to Baku start from:
- $2,200 / RMB 15,300 (1 stop) or $1,300 / RMB 9,000 (2 stops) from Shanghai
- £1,900 (direct) or £600 (1 stop) from London
- €900 (1 stop) from Amsterdam
- $1,100 (1 stop) from New York
- S$1,600 (1 stop) from Singapore
- A$2,200 (1 stop) or $2,000 (2 stops) from Sydney


Four-night accommodation from:
- $500 / £390 / €460 for a 3* double/twin room with a review score of 7/10 or more on Booking.com
- $1,200 / £900 / €1,100 for a 4* double/twin room with a review score of 8/10 or more on Booking.com
- $2,900 / £2,300 / €2,700 for a 5* double/twin room with a review score of 9/10 or more on Booking.com


Tourist visa:
$23 (inclusive of service fee) for a one-time electronic visa for a stay of up to 30 days. Application takes three days to be processed via evisa.gov.az.


Taxi:
AZN20 / $12 / £9 / €11 one way from Heydar Aliyev International Airport to Fountain Square (city centre) using purple taxis. Expect to pay AZN50 / $30 / £23 / €28 for a Baku White Taxi, also known as "London cabs".


Aero Express shuttle bus:
AZN1.50 / 90c / 70p / €0.85 one way from Heydar Aliyev International Airport to 28 May Metro Station/Central Railway Station (city centre).


Food and drinks:
AZN200 / $120 / £90 / €110 per person for four days for regular meals e.g. casual dining.


Internet access:
AZN17 / $10 / £8 / €9 for a SIM card and 2GB of mobile data.


TOTAL BUDGET from (excluding flights and race tickets):
- $800 / £650 / €750 for a solo traveller or
- $1,000 / £800 / €950 for a couple,
assuming arrival on Thursday morning and departure on Monday morning.



Absheron Grandstand Section C - Image: Force India Formula One Team Limited


3 // TICKET PRICES


A choice of three-day, weekend (Saturday and Sunday) or Friday-only is available for all grandstands except Absheron, the main grandstand across the team garage and pit building. There is a 20% discount for purchasing tickets for the following year by the 31 December. All three-day tickets include a pitlane walk on Thursday.


General Admission ticket prices is for each day and tickets for all three days will be similar to getting a pass for the Bulvar, Khazar or Filarmoniya grandstands (or Giz Galasi during the early-bird discount period). Prices from the organisers are in bold, and we have also included the hospitality options from our ticketing partner BOOKF1.COM white on black.


Exchange rates are sourced from xe.com and based on the highest value since the last Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Grandstand and General Admission ticket prices have been rounded up to the nearest $/£/€10. Hospitality tickets have been rounded up to the nearest $/£/€100.




Click here for full size map and key
- Image: BAKU CITY CIRCUIT OPERATIONS COMPANY





4 // WHERE TO WATCH FROM


The Baku City Circuit, being a street track, offers limited views from most grandstands, hospitality and general admission areas. Although all grandstands are equipped with TV screens, the track viewing experience can be a bit hit-and-miss. Also note that if the evening concerts are important to you, 3-day Absheron ticket holders will be seated in the Crystal Hall where as others will be stand ing in the Fan Zone.

 

Top picks

Azneft - best panoramic view
Absheron B - for grid, pit action and podium
Icheri Sheher - most picturesque
Sahil - best two directions view
Khazar - best value
Filarmoniya - lowest price


Absheron is the main grandstand opposite the pit building. It is split in five sections which all provide a different spectator experience. Section A is in front of the podium, Sections B-C-D are across from the pit garages and Section E has a good view of the Turn 1 action.


Section A is located at the pit entry and follows the starting grid from the fourth to the last row, which is great for observing the grid preparations of midfield teams. Section B is suited to supporters of the top three teams from the previous year's World Constructor Championship as it is facing the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull garages and is next the top six qualifiers on the grid.


Section C is the only covered grandstand at the circuit and is located just after the start line. It is divided in upper and lower levels, the former is a better vantage point but all seats offer a good view of the pit action from the midfield teams. Avoid row 17, the first of the upper level, as other spectators tend to lean on the barrier right in front and block the view.


Section D is located opposite the pit garages of the teams which finished at the tail end of last year's championship. It's close enough from Turn 1 (see image above) to offer a glimpse of the action, although Section E is much better placed for this, as well as a good look of the pit exit.


Following the direction of the track, the next grandstand is Icheri Sheher, which can be found in the beautiful Old City. It's a great spot for pictures as the grandstand follows a very narrow and technical part of the circuit and is located at a 90-degree turn. Cars are quite slow as a result and easier to photograph with quite a scenic backdrop. That said, just be aware it is the only grandstand that's not on the Baku waterfront.


Filarmoniya is the cheapest grandstand and as such represents good value for anyone on a tight budget. The seats closest to Turn 16 are to be favoured as they boasts a better overall view of the cars coming down the hill from the Philharmonic Hall at Turn 15.



Azneft Grandstand - Image: Image: Force India Formula One Team Limited


Azneft is one of the only three grandstands offering a few facing the incoming cars. Located on the outside of Turn 16, it offers a better view of the cars coming down the hill than the Filarmoniya grandstand (hidden behind the trees in the image above).


Giz Galasi faces the Maiden Tower, a landmark of the Old City. Unfortunately, the view has noting special due to drivers going flat out curve and trees on the left of the grandstands blocking the view of the incoming cars.


Mugham is one of of three grandstands, along with Sahil and Khazar, that allows to watch the drivers racing in both directions. Cars in the section closer to the grandstand travel at full speed and are hard to watch but those on the other side of the track are braking into Turn 7 on their way to the Old City part of the street circuit.


Sahil also offers views of the cars going in both directions but offers a better sight as a seat in one of the top rows faces the drivers going from Turn 5 into Turn 6. It's a slow section, akin to a chicane, so another top spot for taking pictures.


Khazar has the second cheapest grandstand seats, and possibly the best value for money if you can a seat in one of the top rows and closer to the Turns 5/6 chicane. From there, you can watch the cars from behind going towards to Old City on the right hand side and coming back towards Turn 20 on the other side. You'll need to turn your head away from the TV screen to face the cars coming back but will have the Flame Towers in the background, which will look great on any snaps (see bottom picture).


The Bulvar grandstand, on the other hand only, whilst priced at the same level as Khazar, only allows for watching the cars zooming past. The speed of the cars negate the fact the racing line is further away from the Bulvar seats allowing a view above the catch fence.


Paddock Club hospitality packages for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix are reasonable when compared to other races. Prices start from $870 / £620 / €720 for a Friday-only pass which is good value if you want enjoy the meals, fine wines and the open bars with champagne. The view from the pit building terrace is also much better than the one you'd get from the Absheron grandstand. Daily pit-lane walks are also part of the package.



Mugham Grandstand - Image: MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team


5 // TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS


Expect the weather to be much cooler in April than in June when the race weekend was held back in 2016 and 2017. Rain is also twice as likely. Temperatures range from around 10°C in the morning to about 20°C in the afternoon but with the race starting at 4pm, temperatures are likely to drop quite quickly. A rain jacket is a must as umbrellas will only be tolerated in the grandstands in case of significant downpours when the session is likely to be red-flagged.


The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is strictly non-smoking in the grandstands, hospitality units, general admission bleachers and any indoor bar or cafe.


The list of prohibited items is similar to other street circuits, so no foldable chairs or stools. Also forbidden are food items, alcohol and liquid containers other than 100ml of water in a clear plastic bottle, or baby food. Camera lenses are restricted to a maximum 30 cm in length. No monopods or tripods allowed in either. Flags also need to be less than 1 metre tall, inclusive of handle/pole.


The Crystal Hall is about 5 km away from the main grandstand. Shuttle bus and ferry services provide spectators an alternative from walking from behind the Absheron and Bulvar grandstands. Departures are scheduled every 15-20 minutes. Check the Baku City Circuit website for departure and return times.


Some of the event commentary on the PA system will be provided in English. The F1 App includes the BBC Radio 5 Live broadcasts of all F1 sessions which you can also access with a VPN and TuneIn or a similar app but you'll also need access to a VPN with a UK location. We found in China that ExpressVPN works well and is very easy to set up (in seconds).



View from Khazar Grandstand - Image: Ferrari S.p.A


6 // USEFUL LINKS TO PREPARE YOUR TRIP TO BAKU


www.bakucitycircuit.com - tickets and event information
BOOKF1.COM - our GBP/USD/EUR/AUD/CAD ticketing and hospitality partner

Booking.com - our trustworthy hotel reservation partner

evisa.gov.az - e-Visa to Azerbaijan

ExpressVPN - VPN service for mobile devices

www.formula1.com - General Information and schedule from Formula1.com



Have you been to the Grand Prix in Azerbaijan? Share your experience in the comment section below.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix spectator guide
 

F1 & MotoGP ticket partner

Banner

Hotel Reservation Partner

Banner

Find us on Facebook

GrandPrixAdvisor.com Poll

Which Asian F1 race would you prefer going to?
 

Guests Online

We have 231 guests online