March 7 (Reuters) – Formula One fans in Britain and the Netherlands are the biggest overseas buyers of Azerbaijan Grand Prix tickets after sales to Russians dried up due to the war in Ukraine, according to organisers.
Race spokesman Turab Teymurov said at the Bahrain season-opener that the April 30 grand prix was expected to sell out, with three grandstands already full.
Baku will be hosting Formula One for the seventh time, with six different drivers winning the previous races in the capital, and will be the first of six sprint weekends this season.
“We’ve lost Ukraine and Russia in terms of travel hubs, because most of the tourists and fans were coming through Ukraine and Russia,” said Teymurov.
“We have lost the Russian market but there are more people coming from Europe.”
Russia, which borders Azerbaijan, lost its Formula One race after invading Ukraine in February last year in what Moscow calls a “special operation”.
Red Bull’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen is chasing his third world championship in a row, while Britain is home to most of the teams and has three drivers including Mercedes’ seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton.
View 2 more stories
Teymurov said tickets were booked from more than 100 countries with the top three being Azerbaijan, Britain and the Netherlands.
Azerbaijan is in the last year of its current contract but wants to extend.
“We are looking forward to becoming established — rather than being a new kid on the block, becoming an established grand prix similar to Monaco and Monza,” said Teymurov.
He said 10,000 locals had applied for 1,500 volunteer positions and registration had closed after four days.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ken Ferris
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.