European Tour

The European Grand Prix is in Baku this year. It could well be somewhere else next year

There were sporadic European Grands Prix (or Grands Prix of Europe) during the pre-and post-war periods, but it was in 1983 that the race became a fixture in the World Championship. That season, a new grand prix, to be held in Queens, New York, amid much fanfare, was cancelled with just 10 weeks to go. Brands Hatch was chosen as a replacement but, with a British Grand Prix having already taken place earlier that summer at Silverstone, the new event took on the European mantle. The penultimate race of the season, it was a huge success, prompting the FIA to continue with this new addition to the calendar the following season (the Nürburgring had the honour in 1984). However, from 1986 to 1992 it lost out to the new Hungarian Grand Prix.

René Arnoux in action at the 1983 European Grand Prix at the Brands Hatch circuit in Kent, England  Photo: Getty Images

Michael Schumacher chases Jean Alesi at Goddard Corner during the 1993 European Grand Prix at Donington Park, England  Photo: LAT Photographic

Jean Alesi's Ferrari in action during the practice session at the 1994 European Grand Prix in Jerez, Spain  Photo: Getty Images

It again came to the rescue in 1993, when the race was re-launched at Donington Park after plans for an Asian Grand Prix hit the buffers. Another massive turnout, another incredible race, held in the wet, with Ayrton Senna famously lapping every other driver. Barring a non-appearance in 1998, it’s been with us ever since, finding a home at the Nürburgring up until 2007 and then, until 2012, at Valencia.

Schumacher's Ferrari F310B at the 1997 European Grand Prix in Spain  Photo: Getty Images 

Schumacher celebrates his victory at the 2000 European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring circuit in Germany  Photo: Getty Images

Schumacher's Ferrari at the 2006 European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, Germany  Photo: Getty Images

Staging the race at Baku should ensure a new lease of life; a chance to reassert itself as a vital part of the Formula One calendar, rather than a hastily arranged Plan B. However, F1 does have a touch of the unpredictable about it these days, off the track at least. Don’t be too surprised if you see the Grand Prix of Europe pop up on some unexpected corner of the map next season…

Felipe Massa wins the 2008 European Grand Prix in Valencia, Spain  Photo: Getty Images

Massa and Fernando Alonso at the 2010 Eueopean Grand Prix in Valencia, Spain  Photo: Getty Images