Bahrain’s first Grand Prix in 2004 made history as the first Formula One Grand Prix to be held in the Middle East.
The Bahrain Grand Prix only came into being after Bahrain succeeded in fighting off fierce competition from elsewhere in the region to stage the race – in particular the UAE and Egypt – with Qatar still unsuccessfully lobbying to secure its own Grand Prix event. However, Abu Dhabi started hosting its own Grand Prix events from 2009.
Construction of Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit was initiated by the Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who remains a leading advocate of the event. The Crown Prince is the Honorary President of the Bahrain Motor Federation.
The first 2004 Grand Prix was dominated by Michael Schumacher and Ferrari. The seven-time world champion won from pole and set the record for the fastest lap. The hairpin Turn One at the Sakhir Circuit was in 2014 named “Schumacher”, in tribute to this champion of Formula 1 who was gravely injured after a 2013 skiing accident.
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. 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” and “high standards of technology”.
The Formula 1 has become a crucially important national event for Bahrain. By bringing thousands of visitors to Bahrain each year, the race directly and indirectly generates tens of millions of dollars of revenue, as well as enhancing Bahrain’s international reputation and profile.
The 2014 event took proceedings up a gear when Bahrain initiated its first night race to popular acclaim. The spectacular night time racing under the spotlights was repeated in 2015 in parallel with an ambitious programme of musical events and entertainments in the vicinity of the racetrack.
In Bahrain and across the GCC region there is a lot of passion for motor racing, so there is great excitement each year around this festival of sport. As the only desert track, the Bahrain Grand Prix always guarantees to be a truly unique experience.
First for Bahrain
- Bahrain’s first mosque
- First artificial islands
- Female president of UN General Assembly
- First nation to host Gulf Cup
- First mention in historical record
- First modern schools
- First causeway
- First oil well in the region
- First media outlets
- Bahrain’s first lady
- Women in medicine
- International Airshow
- First referendum