Azerbaijan may have only joined the calendar in 2016, but there have already been many memorable moments at one of Formula 1’s newest events. We take a look at five F1 milestones which have happened at Baku City Circuit!
2018: First points for Charles Leclerc
Charles Leclerc impressed at the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, scoring the first points of his career. In only his fourth Formula 1 appearance, Leclerc had qualified in thirteenth, recording the Sauber team’s best qualifying position in three years.
In the race, Leclerc made his way to an impressive sixth place and fended off Fernando Alonso to score the first points of his career. It was the first time a Monegasque driver had scored a point in F1 in almost 70 years. The last to do so was Louis Chiron at his home race in 1950!
2018: First point for Brendon Hartley
Charles Leclerc wasn’t the only driver to pick up his first points at the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Brendon Hartley’s tenth place finish saw him pick up the first point of his career. It was the first time a driver from New Zealand had scored a point since Chris Amon finished fifth in the 1976 Spanish Grand Prix.
It would be one of only three occasions that Hartley would score in his Formula 1 career, picking up further points with a tenth place finish in Germany and ninth place in the United States, before being dropped from the Toro Rosso team at the end of the 2018 season.
2016: Last European Grand Prix
The first race at the Baku City Circuit was officially titled the 2016 European Grand Prix. It’s the last time that the European Grand Prix title has been used. In the early days of Grand Prix racing, the title was an honorific title attributed to one European round each season. This last happened at the 1977 British Grand Prix.
It was in the mid 1980s that the European Grand Prix first became a stand-alone event, with Brands Hatch hosting the 1983 European Grand Prix. This race was held at short notice and took the place of a planned New York Grand Prix in Flushing Meadows Park.
Over the next twenty years, the European Grand Prix was hosted at a variety of circuits, including the Nurburgring, Donington Park, Jerez and Valencia Street Circuit. After a four-year absence, the event returned in 2016 to host the first race at the Baku City Circuit. For 2017, the event was titled the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
2018: Last podium for Force India
Sergio Perez scored the last podium finish for the Force India marque at the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. It turned out to be the final podium finish for the Force India guise of the Silverstone-based team. In mid 2018, the team was bought by a consortium led by Lawrence Stroll and now races under the Racing Point name. The team is set to become Aston Martin in 2021.
It was Perez’s second podium finish at the track, having also finished in the top three on his first appearance in 2016. He still holds the record for most podium finishes at the Baku City Circuit, though he now shares it with Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas.
2017: First podium for Lance Stroll
Lance Stroll took the first podium finish of his F1 career at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Starting eighth on the grid, Stroll ran a clean race and avoided incidents, unlike his competitors. This left him in second place with the faster cars of Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton all closing in behind him. Of the three, only Bottas closed down the gap and the Finn overtook Stroll on the line to steal the runner-up spot. Nevertheless, with third place, Stroll became the second youngest driver to have finished on a Formula 1 podium, as well as the first Canadian to finish in the top three since Jacques Villeneuve at the 2001 German Grand Prix.