Hitting the Apex: Bahrain International Circuit

It’s Bahrain Race Week! Read on to know everything you need to know about the Bahrain International Circuit.

Written by Mees Drijgers

February 29, 2024

Construction of the Bahrain International Circuit, located in the west of the country in the desert area of Sakhir, started in 2003. The name Bahrain comes from the Arabic term al-bahrayn, which means “two seas”. It was designed by German architect Hermann Tilke, who also designed the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, and together with the other facilities surrounding the race track, took less than 18 months to build.

Mercedes on track at Bahrain (Photo via @mercedesamgf1 on Instagram)

 

The track was officially opened on the 17th of March in 2004, with the first official F1 race taking place on the track in the same year. This would make the Bahrain Grand Prix the first GP to be held in the Middle East, fighting off competition from other countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates. In 2024, instead of following the usual weekend format, the Grand Prix will be held on a Saturday instead of a Sunday.

GENERAL INFORMATION

  • Track distance: 5.412 km / 3.363 miles
  • DRS zones: 3
  • Corners: 15
  • Elevation: 15.2 metres
  • Laps: 57
  • Race lap record: 1:31.447 – Pedro de la Rosa (2005)
  • Direction: clockwise
  • Night Race

According to F1.com, the Bahrain configuration for this year is as follows:

 

PREVIOUS TYRE COMPOUNDS

  • Selected compounds in 2023: C3 (soft) C2 (medium) C1 (hard)

  • Selected compounds in 2022: C3 (soft) C2 (medium) C1 (hard)

Note the introduction of the new “C0” compound

 

Not only does the circuit have an FIA Grade 1 license, it also features multiple FIA certified layouts. From 2004 till 2009 and from 2012 onwards, the Grand Prix Circuit has been in use. In 2010, the Endurance Circuit was used, while the Bahrain Outer Circuit was used for the Sakhir Grand Prix in the 2020 season. Other layouts include the Paddock Circuit, the Oasis or Inner Circuit, and a flat oval.

 

The 2024 season will be the 6th time Bahrain will host the opening round of the season; the circuit hosted Round 1 in 2006, 2010, 2021, 2022 and 2023 as well. The Bahrain GP has not always hosted the opening round of the Formula 1 season though, as it used to be the 3rd round in the first few years the track appeared on the calendar. In 2009, Bahrain International Circuit was the 4th track on the race calendar.

 

Michael Schumacher was the winner of the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix, with Fernando Alonso becoming the first driver to win the race multiple times in 2006. Lewis Hamilton has won the most Grand Prix at this circuit (5 in total); Ferrari is the most successful constructor at Bahrain, with a total of 7 wins.

Ferrari on track at Bahrain (Photo via @scuderiaferrari on Instagram)

 

2014 saw the track host its first ever Grand Prix under lights, as the race was scheduled as a night race to celebrate the tenth year of Formula 1 at the circuit. Subsequent editions of the race have also been held at night. In 2020 the circuit hosted two Grands Prix, the Bahrain and Sakhir Grands Prix, after the calendar was revised following the COVID-19 pandemic with the second using an alternative layout (the Outer Circuit).

 

The Bahrain International Circuit offers a wide range of challenges, from the fluctuating temperatures in between sessions, to the high winds possible on and around the track. Due to its mixture of straights, bends and tight corners, it demands both high engine power and plenty of downforce. Despite all of this, the circuit often offers great racing and a decent chance at overtaking.   

 

PREVIOUS WINNERS

  • 2023 Max Verstappen
  • 2022 Charles Leclerc
  • 2021 Lewis Hamilton
  • 2020 Lewis Hamilton
  • 2020 Sergio Perez (Bahrain Outer)
  • 2019 Lewis Hamilton
  • 2018 Sebastian Vettel

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mees was introduced to the world of F1 by one of her friends in July 2020 and hasn’t missed a race weekend since. Her favourite drivers are Alex Albon, Lewis Hamilton, Oscar Piastri, and George Russell; outside of F1, she also actively supports Liam Lawson and Callum Ilott. She specialises in writing about F2, but is looking to specialise in FE and IndyCar as well, after starting to watch both series in 2022. After getting her Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Culture, she is currently getting MA degrees in Translation and English Literature & Culture. When she’s not watching motorsport, she’s either watching football matches (preferably Real Madrid), reading a book, or watching streams on Twitch.

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