Formula 1: Nine interesting facts about Azerbaijan's historic city of Baku and its circuit

German Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel in action at the first practice session at the Baku city circuit, on June 17, 2016.
German Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel in action at the first practice session at the Baku city circuit, on June 17, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

Baku, the cosmopolitan capital of Azerbaijan, is all set to host the Formula One European Grand Prix this weekend (June 17 to June 19).

The historical city of Baku aims to show the world how it will host its inaugural F1 race.

Unfamiliar with Baku? Here are nine more interesting facts about Azerbaijan, Baku, and F1's newest circuit:

1. Fastest and longest street circuit

Formula1.com states that the Baku City Circuit features a circuit length of 6.003km and a total race distance of 306.049km with 51 laps.

It also has 20 turns and a maximum speed of 340kmh, CNN reported.

F1 cars will drive by 12th century city walls protected by Unesco and listed as a world heritage site.

Baku City circuit executive director Arif Rahimov told CNN that these walls will be protected by concrete blocks and guard rails.

Turns eight, nine and 10 are the challenging parts of the circuit as the track narrows greatly to enable cars to manoeuvre past city walls and the 12th century Maiden Tower, as stated by BBC News.

2. Ancient castle in middle of track

Daily Mail Online reported that the variety of scenic views available on the Baku City circuit include driving past the historic Sabayil Castle.

The castle was first built between 1232 and 1233 but was reduced to ruins and submerged after a major earthquake in 1306.

The structure of the Sabayil Castle only resurfaced in the 18th century.

3. F1 race one of Azerbaijan's biggest events

Azerbaijan hosted the inaugural European Games in 2015 as well as the Eurovision Song contest in 2012.

These events attracted many tourists from around the world but the F1 race in Baku is set to garner even more support.

Baku-born driver Gulhuseyn Abdullayev told CNN: "I think F1 will be bigger than Eurovision."

With international coverage and 500 million F1 viewers all over the globe, it is hence no surprise that this F1 race is one of the first major international events ever held in Azerbaijan.

4. Asia and Europe

Azerbaijan borders Iran, Georgia, Russia and Armenia and is located at the crossroads between Asia and Europe.

It has a total population of 9.651 million, the World Bank revealed in 2015, and an estimated quarter of its residents can be found in the capital city of Baku.

5. Formerly part of USSR

Azerbaijan was declared a Soviet Socialist Republic in 1920 when the Red Army invaded and it remained under Soviet rule until it gained formal independence in 1991.

The landmarks that F1 cars will drive by in the Baku City circuit include the Government House, which was built when the country was still a part of the USSR, BBC News reported.

6. Economy built on oil and gas

CNN reported that Azerbaijan's vast oil and gas reserves are integral aspects of Azerbaijan's history and economy.

From as early as the third century, the Zoroastrians - who believe that fire represents God's light or wisdom- created temples at different places around the country near burning gas vents. These temples have been preserved as popular tourist attractions.

Azerbaijan is now a major shareholder of an oil pipeline between the Caspian Sea and Ceyhan in Turkey and hence continues to maintain its prominent role in oil exporting.

7. Baku dubbed "The City of Wind"

Although Azerbaijan is popularly known as the "Land of Fire", the nation's capital of Baku is a windy city.

CNN reported that the weather for the race weekend is expected to be warm and sunny, but the windy conditions of Baku may make the learning process of this new circuit more difficult.

This is because the wind could have an effect on the balance and driveability of cars.

8. Wrestling Azerbaijan's most popular sport

The nation's favourite sport is Olympic wrestling and Azerbaijan's national wrestling team has brought glory to the country in recent years. The sport brought home many trophies during the 2015 World Wrestling Championship in Las Vegas.

The team was able to secure eight medals and 11 qualifications ahead of the coming Rio Olympics, newspaper AzerNews reported.

CNN has reported that in order to garner more support for the F1 Baku race, organisers have been educating the locals about F1 and motorsport by visiting schools and universities.

9. Tea tops among Azerbaijanis

Newspaper AzerNews reported that recent research conducted by British company Euromonitor International concluded that the majority of Azerbaijanis prefer to drink tea.

Azerbaijan emerged as the second leading nation of tea drinkers with 99.1 per cent of the population preferring tea.

CNN also reported that tea leaves are cultivated in Azerbaijan and an estimated eight million tonnes are consumed annually.

Sources: formula1.com, CNN, BBC News, Daily Mail Online, The World Bank, AzerNews