The Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) instantly stood out as being different when it appeared on the F1 calenadar in 2004. The first Grand Prix in the Middle-East – a Formula One race in the dessert.
Unfortunately the venue soon became known less for the racing and more for the controversy surrounding the event each year. In 2011, a lot of dithering over whether the Grand Prix should go ahead and the eventual cancellation, did little to help the venue’s appeal for would be F1 tourists or local fans.
It’s fair to say that some more memorable races would have done a lot to take the focus off the politics and on to the track and in recent years that has happened. The 2014 race in particular is remembered as one of the most exciting of the season and the track is now seen by many as a real racers circuit.
Moving the start time to an evening slot has gone a long way to improve the atmosphere in Sakhir as locals no longer have to take time off work to attend; and the addition of a post race concert has added to the sense of occasion.
For anyone with experience of going to and from F1 races, used to mustering F1 fan levels of patience with traffic and facilities, Bahrain’s level of organization seems like some kind of Grand Prix going utopia. There’s ample parking, more than enough free shuttle buses, and stuff just works.
Bahrain itself is beguiling; a destination that has held onto its authenticity and charm in ways that allude other countries in the region. This is where you will find the Arabia of your imagination, of Aladdin or Arabian Nights.
Bahrain Grand Prix F1 Spectator Tips
- Before you load up the picnic basket, note that Bahrain organizers are stricter than most and thorough security checks prevent food from being brought inside.
- Can’t wait to post your driver selfies to Instagram? There’s wifi in the vendor area at the circuit.
- Remember radio? You can tune in to 107FM at the circuit and listen to commentary in English or Arabic.
- Many hotels run a free or paid shuttle bus to the track. Booking into one of these makes getting to the Grand Prix a doddle.
- Thirsty? It can get dry in the desert but the Gulf Air Hospitality Tent is here to help. This is the only place at the circuit serving alcohol and while tickets don’t come cheap at 50 dinar its a relief just to get out of the heat and enjoy some air-con. You don’t have to miss a thing either as all track sessions are broadcast on screens within the lounge.
The weather is usually very hot and dry. Slap on some factor 50 and a floppy hat and you’re good to go.