What is special about the 2015 Grand Prix?
Racing under the lights: 2015 will be the second Formula One night race in Bahrain after last year’s highly successful event. This year’s Bahrain Grand Prix is round four of the Formula One season.
Track length:5.412 km – 57 laps
Race start time:6pm local time
Infrastructure & personnel: Bahrain’s infrastructure has undergone a major revamp ahead of the Grand Prix, including large areas of extra parking spaces, highway maintenance and new counters at the BIC site to expedite entry procedures. 14,000 personnel are involved in the massive Formula One operation. This includes catering staff, security, medics and maintenance.
Streamlined visa procedures: Bahrain’s customs authorities have recently started issuing two-week multiple entry visas to cover the Grand Prix period. Fans from 66 countries can acquire their visas on arrival. Nationals from 102 states can get their visas online.
Entertainment: The entertainment for the 2015 Grand Prix promises to be more spectacular than ever, especially with the new “Race Fever” promotion in the run-up to the main event, featuring the Red Bull Motocross X Fighters at Amwaj Islands and British boy-band The Vamps.
BIC Chief Executive Shaikh Salman explained that one objective for this pre-race entertainment was as a promotional activity to get early ticket sales and to combat the tendency to buy tickets at the last minute. “We’re trying to build a culture of people buying tickets earlier,” he said.
Other major attractions include international superstars Pitbull and Sean Paul; and DJs Paul Van Dyk and Bob Sinclair.
Snow: The 2015 Grand Prix will also feature another first – an indoor snow park. French company EverSnow is currently constructing a 400m² snow garden, with a cross-country skiing trail, a freestyle ramp complete with crash pad, an ice-climbing wall and skating rink.
2014 night race debut
Bahrain marked 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.
The floodlit night race was considered to be a major success, with 31,000 fans alone attending the Sunday racing, while millions watched around the world.
In 2014 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton won for his first time in Bahrain. The 2014 pole position went to Nico Rosberg (1:33.185).
1st. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2nd. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
3rd. Sergio Perez (Force India)
4th. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
5th. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)
6th. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
7th. Felipe Massa (Williams)
8th. Valtteri Bottas (Williams)
9th. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
10th. Kimi Raikkonen
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.
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 was last year named “Schumacher”, in tribute to this champion of Formula 1.
After a subsequent change in the route, Pedro de la Rosa holds the current lap record, with 1:31.447 in 2005 (McLaren)
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.
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 Bahrain’s 6.3 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.