Azerbaijan Formula 1 organisers have moved to deny suggestions that the country’s current economic woes could force the cancellation of its inaugural race in June.Falling world oil prices has seen the local currency, the Manat, lose a third of its value against the US dollar in the last month.
The country was the latest to sign a big money deal to host a Formula 1 race ahead of this season, committing to building a 6.0km street circuit in its capital of Baku for the June 17-19 fixture.
Responding to the recent uncertainty of the race’s viability, the Baku City Circuit has issued a lengthy statement insisting that it will go ahead as planned.
“The devaluation of the Manat will have no impact with regards to the staging of the first ever Formula 1 race in Azerbaijan,” read the statement.
“In fact, when the budget for the Grand Prix of Europe was approved, it was initially calculated in US dollars. As a result, we not expecting any changes to the current event budget.
“BCC shares the concerns of everyone at the current devaluation of our national currency. BCC also accepts that staging such a major event requires a significant financial outlay.
“However, we would once again stress that the overall economic impact – both short and long term, direct and indirect – created by staging an F1 race will be of huge benefit to the national economy.
“The impact of increased tourism and direct visitor spending that will be injected into Baku area business establishments such as restaurants, bars, hotels and retailers will see millions, if not more, pumped into the economy.
“Similarly, the hosting of the race itself will create thousands of jobs directly and indirectly linked to the event.
“We are confident that the staging of this race will not only play a major part in aiding the recovery in the short term but in driving the national economy forward for years to come, outweighing any existing concerns being levelled against the cost of staging it.”
The event’s date has also made headlines due to its clash with the World Endurance Championship’s flagship Le Mans 24 Hours.
F1 qualifying is scheduled to clash with the start of Le Mans, while the evening Baku race will get underway right as the 24 hours elapses at La Sarthe.