Baku, Azerbaijan Track Guide

Baku City Circuit

Baku – Azerbaijan

The Baku City Circuit, located in the small country of Azerbaijan, was included in the Formula 1 calendar in 2016, holding one edition of the European Grand Prix and, from 2017, the Azerbaijan Grands Prix, and has become one of the most beloved tracks for its exciting races.

At 6.003 km, the Baku City Circuit is the second longest circuit on the calendar, behind Spa-Francorchamps. Herman Tilke designed this twisty and interesting circuit through the streets of the country’s capital, combining technical sections with other high-speed zones.

Despite skepticism in 2016 due to the layout design, the event has become one of the most popular among drivers and fans due to the exciting and unpredictable racing it offers, being one of the only races in which drivers who were not part of the top three were able to climb up to the podium.

Baku Circuit: Complete Data

Official NameBaku City Circuit
LocationBaku, Azerbaijan
TypeStreet Circuit
Track Length6.003 km (3.730 miles)
Race Distance51 laps (306.049 km)
Grand Prix Held6 (2016-2019, 2021-present)
Race Lap Record1:43.009 (Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90, 2019)
Most PolesCharles Leclerc (2)
Most WinsNico Rosberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Sergio Pérez & Max Verstappen (1)

Baku Circuit: History

In late 2013, then Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone announced that Formula 1 would hold a Grand Prix in the oil-rich country of Azerbaijan starting in 2015, a date that was later pushed back to 2016, replacing the Korean Grand Prix due to a breach of contract.

Shortly after the announcement of the Grand Prix, the prestigious circuit architect Hermann Tilke was commissioned to design the layout, which would run through the streets of the historic center of the country’s capital, on the shores of the Caspian Sea, with the aim of including as many of the city’s historic landmarks as possible.

Thus, Tilke designed a very complete circuit, twisty but extremely fast in some areas, as we will see later, in which the pits and paddock are located around the Government House, and the track passes through some of the most emblematic sites of the city, such as the Presidential Palace and a 12th-century castle.

The first race the circuit hosted was the 2016 European GP, and the layout was heavily criticized before and after that first event, as it was not a very entertaining race. Many claimed that the circuit did not offer many opportunities for overtaking.

However, the criticism dissipated in the following Grands Prix, as since 2017 Baku has offered some of the most chaotic, unpredictable, and exciting races of all, being very eventful, with numerous overtaking and accidents. Every year there has been a different winner, and the podium has usually been completed by midfield drivers that started from further back.

Baku Circuit: Layout Guide

The Baku City Circuit is 6.003 km long and has 20 turns, making it the second longest circuit on the calendar behind Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. The street circuit is 13 meters wide at its widest part and only 7.6 meters at its narrowest part.

Despite being a street circuit, it is extremely fast in some parts. The main straight of the circuit is 2200 meters long and is perfect for slipstreaming and overtaking. It is one of the fastest sections of the entire calendar, with cars reaching speeds of 340 km/h. In 2016, Valtteri Bottas broke the Formula 1 speed record on this straight, reaching 378 km/h.

From there, the circuit narrows and becomes more twisty, with sector 1 consisting of 4 right-angle corners that give way to sector 2, which runs in the old town, the narrowest, most technical, and slowest part of all. This section combines 10 corners through Baku’s medieval city walls and is very difficult to overtake.

Turns 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 form the so-called castle section, which is the narrowest part of the circuit, and where the slightest mistake takes you straight into the wall. It is a section of corners one after the other and is where there are usually more accidents, both in qualifying and in the race.

Sector 3 is the fastest of all, which gives way to the long straight of 2200 meters that ends at turn 1, which is the clearest overtaking point of the entire circuit. The complexity and demand of the layout, which is quite complete, has caused much praise among the drivers.

Baku Circuit: Onboard Lap

The Baku lap record (which only counts for laps set in the race) was set in 2019 by Charles Leclerc at 1:43.009. The Monegasque, with 2 pole positions, one in 2021 and one in 2022, is the only driver to have repeated pole positions in Baku.

However, the track record belongs to Valtteri Bottas, who took the pole position in 2019 with a time of 1:40.495, 59 hundredths of a second ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton.

In the following video we can see the impressive lap of Bottas, who gives his all through the narrow streets of Baku without making any mistakes to complete a perfect lap.

Baku Circuit: Weather

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is usually held between the end of April and the beginning of June, months in which temperatures are mild, between 12ºC and 24ºC on average. Despite being in the wet season in the country, it has not rained during any Formula 1 Grand Prix, as rainfall is not very usual or heavy.

Therefore, the event does not stand out for its high or low temperatures, nor for its precipitation. In addition, Baku is very humid in the summer months, but not so humid on the date of the Grand Prix, making it a fairly comfortable weekend with respect to the weather.

Baku Circuit: Curious Facts

  • In 2016, Valtteri Bottas set a new unofficial Formula 1 top speed record in qualifying, when Williams claimed to have data showing him reaching 378 km/h (235 mph), beating the previous record of 372 km/h (231 mph) set in 2005 by Juan Pablo Montoya in Monza.
  • For the first Grand Prix in 2016, Pirelli discovered that 90% of the rear tires used in free practice had sheared off because the bolts that attach the curbs to the ground had not been drilled out sufficiently. 
  • After the long main straight, there is a 202-metre run to the first corner.
  • The circuit is located 28 meters below sea level.
  • No driver has ever repeated victory on the streets of Baku. In 2022, Charles Leclerc was the first repeat polesitter, having taken pole position the previous year as well.
  • The first Grand Prix at Baku Circuit in 2016 was held under the name European Grand Prix, while the rest under the name Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The European GP has been held 23 times since 1983 at 6 different circuits: Brands Hatch, Donington Park, Jerez, Nürburgring, Valencia, and Baku.
  • Of the 6 editions held, only Nico Rosberg in 2016 and Valtteri Bottas in 2019 have won the race starting from pole position.
  • Sergio Pérez, with 4 podium finishes, is the driver with the most podium finishes in Baku, including his victory in 2021. It is his star circuit.
  • The 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix marked the first time in Formula 1 history that a Mexican driver (Sergio Pérez), a German driver (Sebastian Vettel), and a French driver (Pierre Gasly) shared the podium positions.

Remarkable F1 Races At Baku

2021 Azerbaijan GP

After an eventful qualifying session, in which there were several red flags due to some accidents, Charles Leclerc took the pole position, followed by Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. In the race, Leclerc held on for a couple of laps in the lead, before being overtaken by Hamilton and Verstappen, the contenders for the title and the race up to that point.

On lap 31, Lance Stroll suffered a puncture on the main straight that sent him into the wall, causing a Safety Car that lasted 4 laps. When the race restarted, Sebastian Vettel overtook Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly to take fourth, while the two Red Bulls were leading the race, followed by Hamilton.

With only 5 laps to go, Verstappen suffered a puncture similar to Stroll’s on the main straight, hitting the wall and causing him to retire from the race, resulting in a red flag, and so Pérez inherited the lead.

At the restart, Hamilton, while trying to overtake Pérez, locked the tires, which caused him to go into the run-off area and fall to the back of the grid. Pérez took the victory after this chaotic race, while Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly completed the podium. The German made a great comeback, as he started from the eleventh position.

2017 Azerbaijan GP

The 2017 Azerbaijan GP saw the biggest story of the 2017 season, as the tension between title contenders Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel reached its peak, amidst a chaotic race. Hamilton started from the pole position, followed by teammate Valtteri Bottas, while Vettel could only manage fourth. In the race, Hamilton held the lead for the first few laps, while Vettel quickly reached the second position.

On lap 10 there was the first Safety Car period after Daniil Kvyat retired, and the drivers took the opportunity to pit. Shortly after there was another Safety Car, and upon announcing its end, Hamilton braked sharply to slow the pack before restarting the race, but Vettel hit the rear of his car, damaging his front wing.

After that, the German paralleled with the Briton to reprimand him, and made contact with his car on purpose, which was a very controversial epic move, and for which he received a 10-second stop-and-go penalty.

On lap 23 there was a red flag for debris on the track, and shortly after, Hamilton had to make an extra stop due to a strange problem with his headrest, dropping him several positions, as did Vettel, who had to serve the penalty. 

As a result, Daniel Ricciardo, who after the red flag made an incredible triple overtake at Turn 1, moved up to the lead, while Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll completed the podium. At the age of 18 years and 239 days, the Canadian became the second youngest driver in history to obtain a podium finish, the last podium achieved by Williams to date.

2018 Azerbaijan GP

Sebastian Vettel took the pole position for the 2018 Azerbaijan GP, followed by the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. In the race, the first Safety Car period came after several accidents on the first lap, including an incident between Raikkonen and Ocon, and a double puncture for Alonso, who fell to the back of the grid.

After the restart, Vettel held the lead, followed by Hamilton and Bottas, while there was a lot of fighting in the midfield. The two Red Bulls battled intensely for several laps for the fourth position until they collided with each other on lap 40, causing both to retire.

The accident of the Red Bulls caused a Safety Car, which made Bottas move up to the first position, while Vettel dropped to second and Hamilton to third. Interestingly, Romain Grosjean crashed during the Safety Car period, which caused it to be extended a couple of laps longer.

After the restart, Vettel tried to overtake Bottas at the first corner, but locked his tires and fell to fourth position. With 3 laps to go, when it seemed that Bottas had everything to win, the Finn suffered a puncture that made him retire, so Hamilton inherited the first position, winning the Grand Prix, followed by Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari and Sergio Pérez’s Force India. Alonso, meanwhile, completed an incredible comeback, climbing up to seventh position.


The Baku City Circuit is a narrow, fast, and twisty street circuit that has hosted Formula 1 Grands Prix since 2016.

It is a circuit that usually offers chaotic and entertaining races, full of incidents, fights, and overtaking, which is why in a few years it has become one of the favorite events for both drivers and fans.