We bring you our very own travel blog ahead of each Grand Prix...
Welcome to Baku, also known as the City of Winds, based in the Land of Fire aka Azerbaijan, located on Planet Earth. Put that together, tweak the order, and you have yourself a 70s Disco Groove club classic! Baku gets its nickname due to its notoriously strong winds, which, according to mythology, are split into the Good and Bad, also known as Gilavar and Khazri. So now you know.
Ask any tourist in Azerbaijan however, and they might argue Baku gets its Wind tag due to eating one too many spicy pilafs or local kebabs. We advise against eating too many shashlicks actually, as you may well get stuck at the very, very narrow Turn 10 and will have to get wheeled away like Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Pirelli may even add you to the 2019 tyre compound list if you get too round…
The Land of Fire name derives from the many mud volcanoes encompassing the harsh Azeri landscape and it’s common to see flames shooting out of nowhere. In fact, films such as Lord of the Rings, Chariots of Fire and Hunger Games all used the barren, muddy puddle-strewn landscape as a backdrop. And yes, Frodo Baggins did indeed travel through the Caucasus Mountains to drop off the one ring into a fiery volcano.
Musicians have also taken inspiration from the fiery outdoors of Azerbaijan for some very popular hits. Ellie Goulding’s Burn, Ash’s classic Burn Baby Burn, Kasabian’s Fire and The Trammps’ Disco Inferno all stemmed from this glorious land.
Speaking of music, Baku hosted the 57th Eurovision Song Contest in 2012, welcoming stellar names such as Great Britain’s Engelbert Humperdinck to the Baku Crystal Hall. We did ask Engelbert as a special guest for this weekend, but sadly he’s busy rolling back the years with a legacy tour.
Baku is a blend of modern and ancient architecture with its new triple Flame Towers dominating the city skyline. The old town, famed for its medieval castle and cobbled streets, is a great place for a catch-up with your bestest pals. Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel enjoyed a good ol’catch-up there last year, albeit trackside, and we may see them cosying up again this year!
Also worth a look is the city’s giant flag, gracefully positioned on National Flag Square – you’ll find it, it’s very hard to miss. It’s actually the second biggest flag in the world at a whopping 70m x 35m and could cover the paddock in a swathe of blue, green and red, but only if Christian Horner’s ego is absent that day.