10th anniversary night race
Bahrain marks its 10th anniversary as a Grand Prix venue with a new approach in 2014 by holding a night race for the first time. As well as providing a spectacular and captivating environment for spectators, this helps make the racing more conveniently-timed for viewers around the world.
This year’s Bahrain Grand Prix is round three of the Formula One season.
Bahrain’s first Grand Prix in 2004 made history as the first Formula One Grand Prix to be held in the Middle East. Bahrain fought off fierce competition from elsewhere in the region to stage the race, such as the UAE and Egypt.
The first 2004 Grand Prix was dominated by Michael Schumacher and Ferrari. The seven-time world champion won from pole and set fastest lap.
Safety & technical excellence
The Sakhir circuit was the first Grand Prix circuit to be awarded the prestigious FIA Institute Centre of Excellence award, for “excellent safety, race marshal and medical facilities”, as well as for “high standards of technology”.
There are a total of 140,000 square metres of run-off; in addition to 82,000 tyres and 4,100 metres of barriers; 12,000 metres of guard rails and 5,000 metres of safety fencing.
The lap record of 1 minute 30.252 seconds went to Michael Schumacher in 2004. The hairpin Turn One at the Sakhir Circuit has been recently named “Schumacher”, in tribute to this champion of Formula 1.
Unrest in 2011
In 2011 the circuit was scheduled to be the first Grand Prix of the season, in March. However, due to civil unrest the race had to be postponed. In June the FIA announced that the race would be scheduled for October. However, two days later the race organizers officially cancelled the race, choosing to focus their attention on preparation for 2012, which went ahead as normal.
Fernando Alonzo has a strong record for Bahrain, with wins in 2005, 2006 and 2010. Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel have both won twice here, with Vettel coming first in 2013. Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher are Bahrain’s other one-time winners.
Facts about the track
- The circuit lies close to the western edge of Bahrain Island, and is surrounded by desert. The local topography is mostly flat, but the circuit itself does have significant variations in elevation. The difference between its highest and lowest points is 18 metres.
- The Bahrain International Circuit at Sakhir is 5.412 km long. The 22 cars racing in the 2014 Grand Prix will have to complete 57 laps. This contrasts with the6.3 km Endurance Circuit which was used in 2010 to mark the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Formula One.
- The circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke, a German architect who also designed Malaysia’s Sepang Circuit. The circuit cost approximately $150 million to construct. It has six separate tracks, including a test oval and a drag strip.
- The long straights of Bahrain’s track give it a reputation as a power-dominated circuit. The circuit has 15 corners, including three hairpin bends.
- The lack of rain (averaging just 70 mm of rain per year) or storms means that drivers don’t usually have to worry about unpleasant surprises from the weather. However, strong winds can be a factor.
- Construction of the Sakhir circuit was initiated by the Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa. The Crown Prince is the Honorary President of the Bahrain Motor Federation.
- The track is made up of crushed Greywacke aggregate rock from a quarry in Shropshire in the UK.
- In the desert climate, sand blowing onto the track can be an issue. Among the measures to deal with the sand is the practice of spraying glue on to the sand around the track, which clumps the sand together and makes it less prone to blowing onto the track.
Quotes from the teams about expectations for the 2014 Bahrain race:
Jenson Button, McLaren
“It’s hard to believe that this weekend’s race will be the 10th Bahrain Grand Prix – I won this race back in 2009, I’ve had lots of good performances here, and I really enjoy the challenge the circuit presents. You always feel like you can get a little bit more out of yourself, and the car, which makes it a difficult but rewarding track”
“Things never stand still in Formula One, and we go to Bahrain facing another new challenge: the circuit’s first night race. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of race we have under the floodlights – racing at night always adds to the atmosphere and sense of occasion, and I think this weekend will be no different.
Eric Boullier, McLaren racing director
“The prospect of a night-time race in Bahrain is truly tantalising. Although we already race in the dark in both Singapore and Abu Dhabi, the Sakhir track sits in the Bahraini desert and should look wonderfully spectacular when its illuminated asphalt is contrasted against the dark expanses of unlit sand and rock. More important, it should add a further dimension to the scope and spectacle of modern Formula One.”
Adrian Sutil, Sauber
“Night races are always interesting and provide a great backdrop for the spectators. It is special to drive at night. I like the layout. The pit facilities are very modern with a lot of space. My favourite parts are the fast chicane in turns six and seven, as well as the fast section in the last sector. We have spent a lot of days testing at the Bahrain International Circuit, but driving there was always fun. I like being in Bahrain. It’s a small country, but it is interesting and has a lot of history.”
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
“Temperatures at the start of the race should still be reasonably high. We’ve noted a very big drop in temperature though as soon as the sun goes down: a variation that can be as big as 15 degrees. Managing that very wide range of temperatures to get the best out of the tyres is going to be one of the biggest challenges for the teams throughout the weekend. This should make it quite tactical in terms of strategy, so it should be a very interesting race from that point of view.”
Kevin Magnussen, McLaren
“I really enjoyed the tests and filming days we did in Bahrain earlier this year actually – the track has a good mix of corners, and the high-speed stuff around the back of the circuit is really enjoyable when the car is working well.
“The Grand Prix itself will take place in the evening, so the track will be slightly cooler than it’s been for any previous Bahrain Grand Prix. I guess that’ll help all the teams, but I think we can still benefit from it. It’s always fascinating to try new things, and I really hope this weekend’s event, the 10th Bahrain Grand Prix, is a great success.”