#12Strangefacts about Azerbaijan

#12Strangefacts about Azerbaijan

June 22, 2017

Last year, on our first visit to this new venue, no one knew quite what to expect. Very little was known about this city on the Caspian Sea. One year on, we know lots of facts about this weekend's host nation and in the year of our STR12 car here are 12 STRange facts about Baku.

1. The city of Baku is actually located below sea level, by 28 metres to be precise. That a) sounds a bit risky and b) makes it the largest city in the world below sea level.

2. Baku has shown a keen interest in putting itself on the "European" map, hosting the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012, the European Games (athletics) in 2015 and of course the 23rd European Grand Prix last year. This year, the street circuit is officially hosting the first ever Azerbaijan Grand Prix – harder to spell, but more accurate.

3. The name Baku comes from the Persian word for "Wind-beaten city" and that factor can affect the cars on track.

4. Azerbaijanis love a good pancake, known as Kutabi. They are always served with a savoury filling. If you crave something sweet, then go for tea, as they sweeten it with jam.

5. Fancy a new experience? Try a Naftalan Spa. This unusual Azerbaijani "health treatment" involves lying in bath of crude oil. Like many of these alternative treatments, its proponents claim it can heal just about anything from aching joints to impotence. Just don't put loads of lit candles around the bath!

6. Baku's a street circuit right? Yes indeed, designed by Hermann Tilke, so how come last year in qualifying, it witnessed the fastest ever top speed recorded by a Formula 1 car at a race track? (378 km/h, V. Bottas, Williams.)

7. Bad fact: last year, the two Toro Rossos accounted for 50% of retirements in the race. We aim to wipe that from our memories this weekend.

8. The weather is supposed to be nice all week, but figuring on anyone's list of Things To Do When It's Raining must be a visit to the world's only museum of miniature books. There are 65000 titles in the museum, some measuring just 2mm x 2mm.

9. Flag Wars: In 2010, the world's biggest flag (ref Guinness Book of Records) was raised in Flag Square in Baku. However, not long after the flag was hoisted, the neighbouring country of Tajikistan pipped them to it with a flagpole that was approximately 3 metres taller. The UAE is credited with starting the craze for tall flagpoles in 2001 and it's becoming something of an international competition these days.

10. Azerbaijanis are keen on a good proverb: some examples are, "Cheap meat never makes a good soup", "Politeness is not sold in the bazaar", and "I tried to draw the eyebrow, but I ended up poking the eye".

11. The Nobel family, famous for the Nobel Prizes, acquired most of its wealth from its interests in the Azerbaijani oil industry.

12. Former world chess champion Gary Kasparov was born in Baku.