Skip to content

First Bahrain F1 night race a resounding success

Apr 7, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain - Race Getty Images

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Honda’s superspeedway oval aero kit set to be revealed Thursday at IMS

    Apr 27, 2015, 1:44 PM EDT

    HondaSStease Getty Images

    Honda set to take the wraps off its superspeedway oval challenger this Thursday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

  2. Ten with Townsend: Long Beach and Barber debrief

    Apr 27, 2015, 1:37 PM EDT

    DixonGRbarber Getty Images

    NBCSN’s Townsend Bell looks back at the instant classic that was Barber, for MotorSportsTalk.

  3. Beyond RHR, Munoz and Andretti both score second straight top-10 at Barber

    Apr 27, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    Munoz, Andretti end sixth and 10th, adding to RHR’s fifth place, to give Andretti Autosport a triple top-10 at Barber.

  4. Williams reports 34m Euro loss for 2014; bullish on future finances

    Apr 27, 2015, 10:43 AM EDT

    Felipe Massa, Valtteri Bottas AP

    Williams has a down financial year in 2014 but should be much better off in 2015.

  5. Power recovers to fourth at Barber after early drive-through for contact with Sato

    Apr 27, 2015, 10:12 AM EDT

    PowerBarber2 AP

    Power ends P4 at Barber despite drive-through penalty early in the race.

  6. WATCH: Indy Lights races from Barber at midnight ET

    Apr 26, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    Photo: Indy Lights Photo: Indy Lights

    Watch the pair of Indy Lights races from Barber at midnight ET.

  7. Relief, gratitude define the day where Newgarden finally gets first win (VIDEO)

    Apr 26, 2015, 8:24 PM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    Newgarden rolls out the thank you mat after scoring his elusive first IndyCar victory.

  8. Ryan Hunter-Reay disappointed, but relieved after Barber performance

    Apr 26, 2015, 8:08 PM EDT

    Ryan Hunter-Reay not satisfied with first top-five finish of 2015.

  9. Montoya, Castroneves still 1-2 in IndyCar points; Newgarden jumps to P4

    Apr 26, 2015, 7:42 PM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    Penske pair still 1-2 after tough afternoon in Barber.

  10. Graham Rahal can’t close deal in runner-up finish at Barber

    Apr 26, 2015, 7:10 PM EDT

    GrahamBarberWin

    Graham Rahal comes up short in best performance in a year.

  11. Josef Newgarden scores his first IndyCar win at Barber

    Apr 26, 2015, 5:37 PM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    Newgarden scores first career win at Barber.

  12. IndyCar: Graham Rahal is halfway leader at Barber

    Apr 26, 2015, 4:43 PM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    We’re halfway at Barber, with Graham Rahal the leader at Lap 45 and pit stops underway.

  13. Button records new personal best in London Marathon

    Apr 26, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    Virgin Money London Marathon Getty Images

    Button joined by wife Jessica and Manor sporting director Graeme Lowdon at the event on Sunday.

  14. WRC: Kris Meeke claims maiden win at Rally Argentina

    Apr 26, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    Meeke 264 Getty Images

    Meeke becomes the first British driver to win in the WRC in 13 years.

  15. SPOILER: Indy Lights race two from Barber Motorsports Park

    Apr 26, 2015, 2:29 PM EDT

    Photo: Indy Lights Photo: Indy Lights

    Results from the Indy Lights’ series second race at Barber Motorsports Park

  16. WATCH LIVE: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, Live Extra

    Apr 26, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    BarberRibbon15 AP

    Watch the fourth round of the IndyCar season, from Barber Motorsports Park, at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.

  17. WSR: Vaxiviere claims last gasp win at Motorland Aragon

    Apr 26, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT

    © Renault Sport © Renault Sport

    Lotus youngster beats Nyck de Vries in a truncated second race of the Formula Renault 3.5 season.

  18. What to watch for: IndyCar at Barber (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN and Live Extra)

    Apr 26, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    BarberW2W4 AP

    What to watch for ahead of Round 4 of the Verizon IndyCar Series season, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

  19. MotoGP: Marquez fractures finger in dirt bike accident

    Apr 26, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Marc Marquez AP

    Marquez undergoes minor surgery on his left hand, and is in doubt for next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.