By Nazrin Gadimova
One of the stages of Grand Prix of Formula One race will be held in Azerbaijan in autumn 2015. Thus, Azerbaijan will become the second country in the former Soviet Union - after Russia - to host this world-famous motor race.
Commenting on the upcoming event, Bob Barnard, who managed the construction of many Grand Prix (GP) Formula One tracks and facilities, said F1 is far beyond a normal sporting event, adding that it ranks up there along with the Football World Cup and the Olympics.
"It attracts international attention and brings a lot of people to the host city. It brings business and influential sponsors," he said.
"Back in 1985 I was involved in a street race of Formula One in Adelaide. The slogan of the race was "Adelaide alive!", because Adelaide was something of a sleepy hollow. And it certainly transformed that city, put it on the map, and it was a whole week of entertainment. It is not just the race itself; there are all sorts of events around the race - sponsor events, balls, parties, major media events that make it a real happening."
Speaking about the honor to host such an event, Barnard said there are only 20 countries in the world that have staged a Formula 1 race.
"As I said, it is like winning the Olympics or the World Cup, but the difference with Formula One is that it is being held annually. Australia has had it for 30 years now - the Olympics or World Cup only come every 50 or 60 years. It is a real privilege to have a Formula One race," he added.
Touching upon the level of preparedness of Baku, Barnard said it is difficult for him to speak about this issue right now but added that he knows Baku has held street races.
"But I also know from my own experience that to hold Formula One is enormous. It is not just a doubling of the intensity, it is the focus, the demands of the organization, the demands of the drivers, the level of the track is actually enormous. So I think in terms of the timescale they are talking about that this is not an easy proposition, unless they can bring in the people who actually have the experience of how to do it," he said.
"I am a bit more of a man-of-the-world than most people, but I have to say I don't know an awful lot," Barnard said, answering the question about his awareness of general information on Azerbaijan and the racing there.
"Well, I know GT [Grand tourer] cars raced there in 2013, around the place and around the capital, so yeah, it's already put itself on the map by doing these sort of things, and that's really one of the reasons for the whole event, so that people like myself can get to know the country and the region," he underscored.
Earlier, Former Renault F1 principal Flavio Briatore said holding a stage of the Formula One Grand Prix in Baku will be a great success for the city.
"I have had a lot of friends there (in Baku) for many, many years and we hope it happens in 2015," Briatore said, speaking to Reuters outside Bernie Ecclestone's motorhome in the Monaco Grand Prix paddock on May 24-25.
"It's very close to Europe, the city is amazing - it's like a little Dubai. And more importantly, everything is new," added Briatore. "The heart of the town is renovated completely so you have the flavor of the old days and of the oil money. The hotels are amazing, the facilities for your guys is super. It's very nice."
It was previously assumed that these races would be held in Baku in 2016, but Azerbaijan's Youth and Sports Ministry reported that Formula One race will be held in Azerbaijan in autumn 2015.