Baku, June 22, AZERTAC
Formula 1 chief Bernie Ecclestone wants other promoters to learn from the "incredible job" Baku did in hosting its first grand prix, according to Sky Sports.
When Ecclestone announced two years ago F1 was heading to Azerbaijan, the reaction from many in the sport was to look it up on a map, such was the unfamiliarity with this new addition to the calendar.
However, after a weekend that provided stunning vistas and prompted positive reviews, it would appear this new race certainly made its mark - with drivers, team bosses and pundits alike singing its praises.
Asked by Sky Sports News HQ's Craig Slater how satisfied he was with the event, Ecclestone said: "If all the places we go made the effort that these people made here, it would be fantastic. They've done an incredible job."
Ecclestone was particularly pleased with how the track came across on TV.
He said: "It's turned out to be a really good circuit. I wanted to go past the old castle whatever happened, to get all these things in shot, which is what we were lucky enough to do."
The drivers were also impressed with what Baku had to offer, including world champion Lewis Hamilton, who said: "It's like a jewel hidden away somewhere which we didn't know about. Plus, the weather's incredible."
There were a few teething problems, such as the drain cover that came loose during P3, damaging Valtteri Bottas' Williams. Ecclestone, however, accepts these things happen. "Yes, this is a prototype, this is the first race," he said.
In the build-up to the race on Sunday, many predicted plenty of incidents after watching the chaos that ensued in the GP2 races over the weekend, but the drama centred around Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen's frantic radio messages.
The timing of the race also posed logistical issues, coming just seven days after the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, more than 5,500 miles away. It remains uncertain whether these two races will stay back-to-back next season.
There has been some speculation Baku might struggle to fulfil its five-year contract to host Formula 1, but Ecclestone's response to that was short and sweet. "I wouldn't worry about that," he said.
This was confirmed by Baku City Circuit chief executive Arif Rahimov, who said: "The government really understands that the Grand Prix brings a lot to the country and it's very important to us.
"That's why we are doing this race and it's not going anywhere.
"Everyone has enjoyed it and we hope we are going to have a very long relationship with Formula 1."
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