Bahrain International Circuit - An Under-regarded Gem


Valued Member
Look at the Grands Prix in Bahrain since its debut back in 2004. Consistently, and obviously without any moisture (at all), it has delivered a fantastic set of Grands Prix. Why does the circuit never get the credit of some of its peers?


It seems foolish to deny that part of the reason that it is difficult to look forward to the Bahrain Grand Prix has been an uncomfortableness with its actual going ahead based outside of Formula One. The brutal crackdown on the local sprout of the Arab Spring did not make Bahrain overly popular, and a Grand Prix ran broadly on a whim of the Crown Prince of such a regime doesn't sit right.
The "return" of 2012 had followed a long and hard debate in the UK about whether the event should go ahead. The teams apparently issued staff with two travel plans in Shanghai - onwards to Bahrain or back home. The race was the target of renewed anti-government protests, which Force India staff caught up in such an event before the weekend. They elected to miss FP2 in order to get back to the hotel in daylight.
These events saw to it that the Bahrain Grand Prix could never not be controversial when backed by the current government, and it is unlikely that this Grand Prix will feel right for a long time; even if other hosts of Grand Prix may have as little respect for human rights and dignity, it seems the protests here are more thematically linked to Formula One.

The Endurance Circuit and the 2010 Grand Prix

Perhaps the start of a season with the most optimism was 2010. Michael Schumacher was returning, as were his team Mercedes. Jenson Button took his #1 to... McLaren. To challenge Hamilton (the fool...). Fernando Alonso was back in a competitive machine for the first time since 2007, and it was red! Refuelling had once again been banned, and thus most overtakes needed to happen on the track.
The 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix was the opening race. It had usurped the ever-popular Albert Park from its customary position at the head of the Formula One season, with the promise of this going on for a while. It was dealing with a whole load of anticipation. It would be the 60th anniversary Grand Prix! The pressure was on!
The organisers, in their finite wisdom, had decided that given this backdrop, a significant change was to be made to the circuit. The cars would turn out of turn 4 and onto a slow and windy section of track before rejoining the old circuit barely metres later. This had the effect of neutralising any of the battles that so often continue down the hill after turn 4 by making it easy meat for those who'd made the pass into 4. It also added 20 seconds to the lap for a section with no overtaking opportunities, daring or interesting corners or charm.
The race was perhaps the most important in years of Grand Prix racing. The dullness of it convinced some that radical change was needed - an opinion which should have been quashed by the subsequent season. This is from whence DRS, and (with some credit (?) to Canada) the ├╝ber-soft Pirelli tyres were first conceived. This was a disappointment associated with the circuit until it merged with the moral opprobium above.


Five years since Hermann Tilke's first circuit at Sepang, Sakhir marked the second Tilke circuit in Formula One. It marked the coming of the new era of circuits. China and Turkey would be on the list by the end of 2005, and within ten years Valencia, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Yeongam, Buddh International and Austin would all be Tilke projects.
They've not been universally loved, and Bahrain is a bit of a symbol for what went wrong. Where Sepang had gravel traps and grass and that lump Vitaly Petrov went flying over to punish the drivers, Bahrain was the first really to have tarmac. Worse, tarmac painted in a facile attempt to pretend it was sand in wide run-off areas.


Well, it is, ignoring all that, a great Grand Prix circuit. There's scarcely anywhere with a bigger proportion of lap on which you can pass, nor a better set of corners to provide consecutive battling than the after turn 4 complex. It is difficult to forget the battle between Rosberg and Hamilton in 2014, although Perez and Button a year earlier was possibly even greater team-mate duking it out.
Despite its drawbacks, and the things it has become a totem or representative of, the actual streak of tarmac in Bahrain is as good as the modern F1 calendar has. Let's hope these words seem more prophetic than pathetic by Sunday though!
Thought about this through the day, it probably is a good track.

#long pause

But its problem is that it represents the direction that F1 has moved in the last 10 to 15 years.

I assume fans are prejudice against the track as they see it as an example of the removal of historical tracks, for these Tilke dull type tracks & I include myself with this prejudice.

We've talked on here at length about the sport being eroded from within & this track maybe seen as one of many examples of this erosion.

As I've said, probably is a good track, but I know there a few more better tracks out there no longer used due to that symbol called $.
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