This year’s running of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix will go ahead but take place behind closed doors, the event’s promoters have announced.
Baku’s street circuit was one of a handful of races to be canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but was hopeful of allowing fans to attend the 2021 round in June.
But on Friday morning, race organisers released a statement revealing Azerbaijan will stage a grand prix this year but without spectators.
“This decision was taken in light of ongoing health and safety concerns caused by the coronavirus pandemic and comes after extensive deliberation between BCC and the Government of the Azerbaijan Republic, F1 and the FIA,” the statement reads.
“While the global situation and pandemic response is continuing to improve, it has become clear that the 2021 Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix race weekend has arrived too soon for BCC to safely host the event with fans present.”
F1 said it was optimistic it would be able to welcome fans to the “majority” of races this year, with Bahrain recently revealing it would allow spectators who have been vaccinated or recovered from corwavius to attend its race on March 28.
Baku is the first race to announce it won’t permit fans for its event this year, but ticket holders of the 2020 grand prix who rolled over their ticket for 2021 will be able to do the same for 2022.
“We are, of course, thrilled to welcome F1 back to Baku after such a difficult period but we will deeply miss our amazing fans that have played a vital part in making this race weekend such a special occasion year after year,” said Baku City Circuit executive director Arif Rahimov.
“Our message is as simple as it is heartfelt: we miss you and we will see you again!
“Our main priority this year will continue to be the health and safety of everyone working & participating at the event, whilst still delivering an awesome spectacle to for the world to savour watching from home.
“We are once again expecting no shortage of drama, high-speeds and excitement when F1 arrives back in Baku for the fifth time this summer, so please sit back, relax and enjoy the 2021 F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix and we will see you all again in person in 2022!”