Azerbaijan secures 2015 Formula One race
Azerbaijan will host a Formula One Grand Prix for the first time next season in its capital Baku, the country's Youth and Sports Ministry says.
''Formula One will be held in Baku in autumn 2015,'' ministry spokeswoman Samaya Mammadova said, adding that ''the final signing (of contracts) will be at the end of May''.
Mammadova said the race would be held shortly after Baku hosted the inaugural European Games multi-sports event in June.
Baku has hosted sports-car racing on a street circuit every year since 2012. Mammadova declined to say whether the same city-centre track would be used for the F1 race, saying only that the venue would be announced later this month.
She said the signing ceremony in Baku would see contracts exchanged between F1 bosses and Baku Grand Prix, a private company.
Azerbaijan would be the second ex-Soviet country to hold an F1 race after the inaugural Russian Grand Prix this October in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, which hosted the Winter Olympics in February.
The 2014 F1 calendar contained 19 races, and additional events in New Jersey, Mexico and India have been proposed for next season. That would potentially break the record of 20 races in a season, set in 2012.
A race in Azerbaijan would continue F1's drift away from the sport's Western European heartland, with newer events in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Russia and Singapore all featuring on this year's calendar.
Azerbaijan has been keen to establish itself as a sporting power in recent years. The country submitted bids to host the 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympics, but was eliminated on both occasions before the final vote.
Azerbaijan hosted the 2011 world amateur boxing championships in Baku in one of its largest sports events yet.
The European Games were an attempt to imitate the Pan-American Games and Asian Games as a regional multi-sports event modelled on the Olympics. The competition would feature 19 sports and a total of about 6000 competitors, organisers said.