Bahrain Grand Prix

Bahrain International Circuit

First grand prix 2004

Number of laps 57

Race distance 307.405KM

Circuit length 5.412KM

About the Bahrain Grand Prix

The 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix will be the season opener for Formula 1. The Bahrain International Circuit is some 30 kilometres outside the capital Manama. During the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix not only engines will be pushed to the limit in the desert of Sakhir, but drivers will also have to keep their heads cool during the hot temperatures under the floodlights.

The Bahrain Grand Prix 2021

In the middle of the desert, drivers only have a few days to get used to the weather in Bahrain again. They will have to adjust quickly, as the first race of the Formula 1 calendar calls for them to go as fast as possible on the straights. Bahrain is characterised by the four long stretches of straight asphalt where the most powerful engine will come forward.

In 2004 the Formula 1 drivers raced on the circuit for the first time, then as the third GP on the Formula 1 calendar after the Grand Prix in Shanghai. At that time it was the first Formula 1 race in the Middle East. The race took place during the day but since 2014 the race has taken place during the night, under the lights.

The Bahrain circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke. The characteristics of course are the straights where the engine is more important than the chassis, a test to see which of the four manufacturers has made the most progress during the winter!

Bahrain International Circuit Track guide

The start/finish line of Bahrain International Circuit is about halfway down the pit straight. Drivers make their way down to turn one, now named ‘Michael Schumacher Turn’, which is a prime overtaking opportunity after the lengthy DRS pit straight.

The chicane of turns 2 and 3 are flat-out down towards turn 4, and very wide corner that spans around 30m, giving plenty of options for overtaking. Turns 5,6 and 7 make up an ‘S’ shape of high speed turns down into the right-hand hairpin of turn 8.

Drivers then go up to the left hand turns of 9 and 10 which are blind corners, where braking is essential at just the right moment to ensure a lock-up doesn’t occur. This leads to the back straight of the track and the other DRS section providing another good opportunity for overtaking at the left-hand turn 11.

Turn 12 is a flat-out right before dropping down to get a good entry onto the straight after turn 13. Braking at the right time for the right turns of 14 and 15 can allow drivers to go flat-out through 15 and down the pit straight for maximum speed.

Race history

Michael Schumacher won the first Bahrain GP in 2004, despite the circuit not quite being fully complete it was deemed good enough to be able to race on.

The track was slightly realigned at turn 4 in 2005, decreasing the overall length of the circuit by 5 meters. Fernando Alonso won both races in his championship winning seasons of 2005 and a thrilling battle throughout the race in 2006, before Felipe Massa won in 2007 and 2008.

Jenson Button in his Brawn GP won in 2009. In 2010 the ‘Endurance Circuit’ layout was used. This change meant that the track was 6.299 km long as opposed to the normal layouts 5.412 km, adding a few extra turns after turn 4 before returning to the original track.

Due to protests going on in Bahrain in 2011 the Grand Prix was cancelled, to be rescheduled for later on in the year but this plan was scrapped.

Despite protests for the 2012 race to be cancelled it still went ahead in the original track layout used before 2010 and saw the first of Sebastian Vettel’s four wins at the Bahrain International Circuit, others coming in 2013, 2017 and 2018.

In 2014 the race changed from a daytime race to become one under lights to initially celebrate the tenth year of Formula 1 at the circuit. This race saw a huge crash between Pastor Maldonado and Esteban Gutierrez, in which the Mexican was sent flipping and spinning.

All races since 2014 have been held under lights since and were dominated by Mercedes from 14-16 until Vettel and Ferrari won the next two. In 2019, Lewis Hamilton won. The 2020 version was pushed to the end of the calendar as a result of coronavirus. Again, Hamilton won the event but Romain Grosjean was the main winner of the day after surviving a horror crash. The F1 circus stayed at the venue for a second Grand Prix in 2020, using the outer loop. It was titled the Sakhir Grand Prix. 

What does the Bahrain Grand Prix race weekend look like?

The first two practice sessions in Bahrain will take place on the 26th March with FP1 during the daytime. FP3 and qualifying take place on Saturday 27th while the race on the 28th will start under the lights with the winners celebrating well into the night. Interestingly, F1 will be running three 60 minute sessions for the first time. 

What time does the Bahrain Grand Prix start?

As in previous years, the Bahrain Grand Prix can be followed live in the live blog from GPblog half an hour before the start of the race. The start time of the Bahrain Grand Prix is 16:00 GMT and the race can also be followed live on Sky Sports F1 as well as all practice sessions and qualifying in the build-up to the race.

Session Date Time
Practice 1 26 March 2021 07:30 - 08:30
Practice 2 26 March 2021 11:00 - 12:00
Practice 3 27 March 2021 08:00 - 09:00
Qualifying 27 March 2021 11:00 - 12:00
Race 28 March 2021 11:00 - 13:00
Times are in America/New_York Timezone
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