Did you know that the very first Formula 1 World Championship Grand Prix, the 1950 British Grand Prix, was also called The European Grand Prix? Probably not, but once upon a time the European Grand Prix wasn’t actually a stand alone event, but a title attributed to an existing race. It stopped in 1977 when James Hunt won at Silverstone, the last British Grand Prix that was also the European Grand Prix. Hopefully, you’re not too confused by that little history lesson!
The name carried on and this weekend the Azerbaijan capital Baku became the 6th different venue to host the European Grand Prix and the ‘Land of Fire’ welcomed Formula 1 for the first time. You could argue that Azerbaijan isn’t in Europe but I think that technically 60% of the country belongs to South-East Europe and 40% to North-West Asia. They could have called this race the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but after hosting the European Song Contest and European Games, you get the impression that being more European is a big thing in these parts.
And Formula 1 is clearly very important to this country too. It has to be, given the money that has been spent bringing it to Baku. Top class facilities and a high speed track which promised a brilliant spectacle given what we’d witnessed in the support races. Sadly it didn’t quite work out as expected for the Grand Prix itself, maybe the drivers had all been watching GP2 and realised that they needed to reign it in a bit. So the Safety Car sat idle for 51 laps whilst Nico Rosberg, faultless throughout, extended his Championship lead at a canter and his teammate suffered a spot of high speed “Computer Says No!” with his engine modes.