Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

F1 encyclopedia

Bahrain International Circuit

Formula 1 circuit

Bahrain International Circuit
Credit: Mercedes
Vital statistics for Bahrain International Circuit
CircuitBahrain International Circuit
CountryBahrain
LocationSakhir
Timezone+03:00
Race debut2004
Results for the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix
Pole positionValtteri Bottas
Race winnerSebastian Vettel
Fastest lapLewis Hamilton

The Bahrain Grand Prix made its way onto the calendar in 2004, spent some time shuffling around to hold the season opener in 2006 and then back into the early rounds again. It was cancelled in 2011 due to political troubles in the country, but returned in 2012. The track has the traditional Hermann Tilke signature of a long straight followed by a hairpin corner, but also has the added challenge of dust blowing in from the desert to affect the grip levels.

F1 history

There have been political difficulties in Bahrain, but the Formula One race returns to the track for another year. It was cancelled in 2011 due to the ongoing troubles, but since then organisers have claimed that the positive spirit invoked by hosting the race can only be a good thing. There are still mixed feelings throughout the Formula One fraternity, however, about the sport’s proper place in situations like this.

2013’s race wasn’t a sure thing until the teams, drivers and media arrived at the track to take part. It was held under a cloud of controversy, but the weekend unfolded without major incident. It’s unfortunate that the track itself doesn’t really deliver on the racing front, making it a difficult spot on the F1 calendar to defend.

Built in the desert, there was plenty of space for designer Hermann Tilke to work his magic, and the track takes the traditional shape associated with his circuit designs. Long straights ending in sharp corners, the track takes an elongated ‘U’ shape, with 15 turns, depending on how you count them.

The lap begins on the lengthy start/finish straight, before dipping to the right, through a quick left kink and on to the left hand straight. At the top, the track bends back down on itself, winding through some twisting turns before a sharp hairpin or two leads onto the flat straight. Round some more sweeping turns and then on the final stretch of track that leads to the last right hand corner and back onto the home straight.

An extension to the track was trialled in 2010, but it was quickly changed back again after not proving very popular. There are few elevation changes to challenge the drivers, and the run off areas are plentiful, meaning mistakes aren’t punished. Grip can be an issue, however, particularly as the surrounding sand often blows its way onto the track regardless of what point in the weekend the action is taking place. Support racing helps to clear up the racing line, but there can still be slippery starts to any of the F1 sessions.

Learn more about Bahrain with the Pocket F1 Handbook.