Apr 7, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
For many years, Bahrain has been considered to be at the bottom of the list of “great grands prix” that currently have a place on the calendar. Following a great deal of political unrest in the kingdom in the wake of the Arab Spring, and the subsequent cancellation of the 2011 race, many expected the race to disappear from the sport altogether. Would it have been missed? Probably not. Mark Webber once said that racing at the Bahrain International Circuit was like driving around a car park. With dwindling attendances and a lack of atmosphere, it was hardly a race people relished.
So when the organizers confirmed that the 2014 race – the 10th Bahrain Grand Prix – would be a night race, many wrote it off as being another gimmick; a last roll of the dice to try and give the event some life. Singapore was at the time the only total night race in the sport, but it worked because of the location and the way that the race was promoted; the “Monaco of the east”, a glamorous event that attracted the rich and famous.
But Bahrain? That would not work as a night race, surely.
Instead, the doubters (including this writer) were proved very wrong last weekend. Not only did the on-track action give us a classic grand prix, but the off-track activity and atmosphere seemed to be a world away from what it used to be. Hundreds of floodlights were erected to illuminate the circuit, and this worked perfectly for the drivers who had no problems with visibility.
Around the circuit, the palm trees and run-off areas were draped in golden lights that came on as the sun went down, creating a quite beautiful overhead shot of the circuit.
It might seem quite odd, but the fact that we could not see the desert in the background went a long way to helping us to forget that this is essentially a grand prix in the middle of nowhere. The grandstands also appeared to be busier this year, with the main straight cheering and cooing at every bit of action before spilling out onto the circuit come the checkered flag.
Just as Qatar has proven to be a successful night race in Moto GP, Bahrain has pulled a similar trick in Formula 1. It was indeed the “celebration” that the organizers promised to mark the 10th anniversary of the first race, and it comes as little surprise that before the weekend had even finished, officials confirmed that they will be keeping the race as a night-time event from now on.
Formula 1’s foothold in Bahrain has never been stronger, and in 2015, we might actually earmark the race as being a highlight for the season ahead.
Feb 26, 2015, 3:00 PM EST
Brazilian driver still believes that Mercedes has the best car in F1 this year.
Feb 26, 2015, 2:00 PM EST
Briton still manages to finish third on Thursday, but is limited to just 48 laps following the power unit issue.
Feb 26, 2015, 1:45 PM EST
F1 rookie happy with the final raft of updates on the STR10 ahead of the first race of the year in Australia.
Feb 26, 2015, 1:00 PM EST
Spanish racer will get a chance to test the E23 Hybrid out on track at least once in 2015.
Feb 26, 2015, 11:00 AM EST
Ferrari reserve driver speaks after completing his first running in the new SF15-T at a filming day in Barcelona.
Feb 26, 2015, 9:00 AM EST
Ex-Red Bull driver believes that Vettel will be rejuvenated following his move to Ferrari for 2015.
Feb 26, 2015, 8:15 AM EST
The VJM08 will finally make its on-track debut with three days to go in winter testing.
Ron Dennis clears up Alonso crash rumors; confirms he was briefly knocked unconscious but was not concussed
Feb 26, 2015, 7:27 AM EST
McLaren CEO meets with the media to quash incorrect reports surrounding Alonso’s accident in testing.
Feb 25, 2015, 5:13 PM EST
Justin Wilson’s offseason plight isn’t only budget-related, but due to a reduced number of available opportunities in IndyCar.
Feb 25, 2015, 2:45 PM EST
Brad Hollinger’s investment in Williams’ ownership moves from 5 to 10 percent.
Feb 25, 2015, 2:21 PM EST
Lineups and running order ahead of this week’s Barcelona test.
Feb 25, 2015, 11:27 AM EST
What Force India couldn’t gain in car evaluation it could gain in 2015 tire and different driver evaluation last week in Barcelona.
Feb 25, 2015, 10:15 AM EST
The Melbourne season opener is a little more than two weeks away.
Feb 25, 2015, 8:52 AM EST
Fernando Alonso is out of the hospital after his testing crash last week.
Feb 25, 2015, 8:30 AM EST
Nick Tandy will embark on a program of LMP1, LMP2 and GT Le Mans in 2015, with KCMG confirmation in WEC.
Feb 25, 2015, 8:22 AM EST
Force India confirms Friday car debut for the new VJM08.
Feb 25, 2015, 8:10 AM EST
Manor seeks to make Melbourne race appearance and confirms its first driver.
- Barcelona F1 2nd Test Paddock Notebook – Thursday 0
- Massa fastest for Williams as final F1 pre-season test begins 5
- Ron Dennis clears up Alonso crash rumors; confirms he was briefly knocked unconscious but was not concussed 3
- McLaren confirms Alonso leaves hospital, and is out for final test 0
- Manor targets Melbourne appearance; announces Will Stevens as first driver 2
- Iconic F1 designer Gerard Ducarouge dies at 73 1
- F1: Barcelona 2015 first test cumulative times, lap counts, analysis 0