Baku City Circuit (BCC) chiefs have brushed off claims that Azerbaijan’s inaugural F1 race might be under threat amidst financial turmoil due to the plummeting oil price.
The oil-dependent country has suffered massive economic loss and seen its currency, the Manat, greatly devalued. Reports have indicated that Azerbaijan, which is preparing to host the European Grand Prix on June 17-19, could be forced to drop the event as a result.
However, Baku organisers insisted on Thursday that the race would get under way, with Azerbaijan hoping to reap substantial benefits from it ultimately.
“The devaluation of the Manat will have no impact with regards to the staging of the first ever Formula 1 race in Azerbaijan,” a BCC spokesperson is quoted as saying by GPUpdate.net.
“In fact, when the budget for the Grand Prix of Europe was approved, it was initially calculated in US dollars. As a result, we are 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 European Grand Prix is scheduled to take place on the same weekend as the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours.