Bahrain International Circuit: The Ultimate Track Guide

Bahrain International Circuit: The Ultimate Track Guide

Formula One stepped into the Middle East for the first time in 2004, with the Bahrain International Circuit hosting its first race in the Sakhir desert. Since then, the track has become host to one of Formula One’s annual night races.


FIRST F1 RACE 2004
TRACK LENGTH 3.363 miles
NUMBER OF LAPS 57
NUMBER OF TURNS 15
MOST POLES Sebastian Vettel (3)
MOST WINS Sebastian Vettel (4)

TRACK MAP


A SHORT HISTORY OF THE BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT

Situated 30km south-west of the Bahrain capital Manama, the Bahrain International Circuit is built on the site of a former camel farm. Crown Prince of Bahrain, Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, was enthusiastic for the track to be built and for the pinnacle of motorsport to visit the country – so much so that it became a national objective for the country.

Bahrain signed a deal to hold a Grand Prix back in September 2002 and construction began in November 2002, with over 12,000 tonnes of granite being used in the making of the track. Hermann Tilke designed the track, which has six different layouts within the outer perimeter of the track. The track’s surface was shipped from Shropshire in the United Kingdom, and the circuit cost $150 million to build. The width of tarmac changes around the track, allowing multiple racing lines in some parts of the circuit. The circuit was finished just in time – but there were many time concerns throughout its construction and, though the track was finished, many of the surrounding facilities were not.

The first race here, in 2004, was Formula One’s first venture into the Middle East. A few changes have been made to the track over the years. In 2010, the track was extended in a layout named ‘the Endurance Circuit’ in honour of Formula 1’s diamond jubilee. This version of the track was only used once and garnered a negative reaction from fans and drivers.

In order to give the event a new lease of life, the Bahrain Grand Prix became a night race from 2014 onwards. 495 light poles were put up around the track, with 5,000 lights illuminating the circuit.

Formula One’s presence in Bahrain has regularly been criticised, with criticism coming to a head in 2011 when the event was postponed and then eventually cancelled due to civil unrest in the country.

The Bahrain International Circuit holds a contract to host the Bahrain Grand Prix until 2018.


🇧🇭 DID YOU KNOW?

The sand around the track is sprayed with a special adhesive so that it doesn’t affect the drivers during a Grand Prix. The track still needs regularly sweeping over the course of a Grand Prix weekend.


FAST FACTS

  • Neel Jani was the first person to drive a Formula One car in Bahrain. He took to the streets of Manama in February 2004 as part of the promotional campaign for the maiden race. 
  • The race was cancelled in 2011 due to the political situation in Bahrain. Plans were made to reschedule the race from March to October that year, but the event never materialised.
  • There is no champagne on the podium here, instead non-alcoholic rosewater is sprayed by the podium placed finishers.
  • Just one corner at this track is named. The first turn was named Schumacher in the seven-time World Champion’s honour in 2014.
  • Although the drivers and fans don’t particularly like the long run-off areas, they do make Bahrain one of the safest race tracks on the F1 calendar. The long run-offs also help to prevent sand from getting on to the circuit.
  • There is capacity for 50,000 fans in the grandstands, with 100,000 visitors expected over Grand Prix weekends.
  • The Grand Prix has been held in April every time it has been held, except in 2006 and 2010 when the circuit held the opening round of the season in March.

🇧🇭 WHY WE LOVE BAHRAIN

Bahrain can serve up a duel in the desert – like in 2014. But even if the racing can, at times, be processional, the event gives us our first chance of the season to see the new cars glittering under lights.


POLESITTERS AT THE BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT

Poles Driver
3 Sebastian Vettel
2 Michael Schumacher
2 Nico Rosberg
2 Lewis Hamilton
1 Fernando Alonso
1 Felipe Massa
1 Robert Kubica
1 Jarno Trulli
1 Valtteri Bottas

GRAND PRIX WINNERS AT THE BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT

Year Winner Constructor
2004 Michael Schumacher Ferrari
2005 Fernando Alonso Renault
2006 Fernando Alonso Renault
2007 Felipe Massa Ferrari
2008 Felipe Massa McLaren-Mercedes
2009 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes
2010 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Mercedes
2012 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
2013 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
2014 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2015 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2016 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2017 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
2018 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari