Bahrain Grand Prix
The Bahrain Grand Prix (Arabic: جائزة البحرين الكبرى) is a Formula One Championship race in Bahrain sponsored by Gulf Air. The first race took place at the Bahrain International Circuit on 4 April 2004. It made history as the first Formula One Grand Prix to be held in the Middle East, and was given the award for the "Best Organised Grand Prix" by the FIA.
|Bahrain International Circuit|
|Number of times held||15|
|Most wins (drivers)||Sebastian Vettel (4)|
|Most wins (constructors)||Ferrari (6)|
|Circuit length||5.412 km (3.363 mi)|
|Race length||308.405 km (191.634 mi)|
|Last race (2019)|
The Bahrain Grand Prix has usually been the third race of the Formula One calendar. However, in the 2006 season, Bahrain swapped places with the traditional opener, the Australian Grand Prix, which was pushed back to avoid a clash with the Commonwealth Games. In 2010, Bahrain staged the opening race of the 2010 season and the cars drove the full 6.299 km (3.914 mi) "Endurance Circuit" to celebrate F1's 'diamond jubilee'.
Human rights activists called for a cancellation of 2012 race due to reports of alleged human rights abuses committed by the Bahraini authorities. Team personnel also voiced concerns about safety, but the race, nonetheless, was held as planned on 22 April 2012.
In 2014, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the first staging of the Bahrain Grand Prix, the race was held as a night event under floodlights. In so doing it became the second Formula One night race after the Singapore Grand Prix in 2008. Bahrain's inaugural night event was won by Lewis Hamilton. Subsequent races have also been night races.
Shortly after the Formula One February 2014 testing, Grand Prix organizers for Bahrain announced a decision to name the first corner of the iconic track after former seven-time champion German driver Michael Schumacher in honour of his achievements and also in support after the driver suffered an almost fatal skiing accident late December 2013.
The building of the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir was started in 2002 with high domestic interest about the project as it gave a future to the next generation of Bahraini racers. Bahrain had fought off fierce competition from elsewhere in the region to stage a F1 race, with Egypt, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates all hoping for the prestige of hosting a Formula One Grand Prix. By the completion of the project, the circuit became the centre of motor sport in the Persian Gulf, as it held many other races such as drag races, GT races, Formula 3 races and the Australian V8 Supercar series.
The first race was in 2004. The race was won by German driver Michael Schumacher for Ferrari. Fernando Alonso won the second Bahrain Grand Prix for Renault in 2005, and then became the first repeat winner of the Middle Eastern race in 2006 (again for Renault), after a thrilling race-long battle with Michael Schumacher. In 2007 and 2008, Brazilian Felipe Massa won the race for Ferrari. 2009 saw Jenson Button win for Brawn GP. After his 2010 triumph, Alonso became the first three-time winner.
The 2010 race saw a new circuit configuration being used for the Grand Prix. It used the "Endurance Circuit" layout, extending the lap length to 6.299 km (3.914 mi). The new track turns left shortly after Turn 4, the right-hander at the top of the hill following the first sequence of turns. There is then a sequence of five turns before the cars head back to the original circuit. Then comes a left-right kink before a tight hairpin returns the cars onto the main track. The track would have reverted to its original layout for the 2011 race, and did so for the 2012 race.
On 21 February 2011, it was announced that the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix scheduled for 13 March was cancelled due to the 2011 Bahraini protests. On 3 June, FIA decided to reschedule the race for 30 October. World champion racer Damon Hill called on Formula One not to reschedule saying that if the race went ahead "we will forever have the blight of association with repressive methods to achieve order". And Bernie Ecclestone told the BBC in an interview: "Hopefully there'll be peace and quiet and we can return in the future, but of course it's not on. The schedule cannot be rescheduled without the agreement of the participants – they're the facts." A week after its decision to reschedule the race, Formula One announced the cancellation of the race for 2011.
Human rights activists called for a cancellation of the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix, which took place on 22 April, because of reports of ongoing use of excessive force by authorities and torture in detention. That includes the killing of activist Salah Abbas Habib during a demonstration on the eve of the Grand Prix, as well as the earlier fatal shooting of photojournalist Ahmed Ismael Hassan al-Samadi, who was covering a protest against the Bahrain Grand Prix.
On 9 April 2012, The Guardian reported that according to an unnamed leading member of one of the teams who said his views were representative, "the Formula One teams want the sport's governing body to cancel – or at least postpone – the Bahrain Grand Prix ..., because of increasing safety concerns amid ongoing protests in the kingdom ... I feel very uncomfortable about going to Bahrain. If I'm brutally frank, the only way they can pull this race off without incident is to have a complete military lockdown there. And I think that would be unacceptable, both for F1 and for Bahrain. But I don't see any other way they can do it".
In that context, Anonymous launched on 21 April 2012 the operation opBahrain, threatening the Formula 1 representatives of a cyberattack in case they go on with Bahrain Grand Prix. Hours later, Anonymous hackers took down the f1-racers.net website after launching a distributed denial-of-service attack on it.
The 2012 Grand Prix reverted to using the 15-corner Grand Prix Circuit configuration last used in 2009, instead of the Endurance Circuit configuration used in 2010.
Since the global media attention over the large scale demonstrations in 2011 and 2012, there have been continual reports from human rights groups about abuses and jailings in Bahrain relating to F1 protests. Among them are photographer Ahmed Humaidan, who was one of about 30 people jailed for roles in the 2012 protest, and activist Najah Ahmed Yousif, who is in prison, and has been physically and sexually abused, for criticising the Bahrain F1 on social media. Rights organisations continue to criticise the Formula One Group and Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) for refusing to follow their own Statement of Commitment to Respect for Human Rights, saying that by not leveraging their position of power to take action against such political crackdown, the F1 organisers are complicit to the dissidents' suffering. In 2018, F1 "admitted concern" for Yousif, after continued public and media pressure, however there has been no known follow up since.
A characteristic of the course is the giant run-off areas, which have been criticised for not punishing drivers who stray off the track. However, they tend to prevent sand getting onto the track and make Bahrain one of the safest tracks in the world.
- 2004–2010, 2012–present: Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix
Winners of the Bahrain Grand PrixEdit
Repeat winners (drivers)Edit
Drivers in bold are competing in the Formula One championship in the current season.
|4||Sebastian Vettel||2012, 2013, 2017, 2018|
|3||Fernando Alonso||2005, 2006, 2010|
|Lewis Hamilton||2014, 2015, 2019|
|2||Felipe Massa||2007, 2008|
Repeat winners (constructors)Edit
Teams in bold are competing in the Formula One championship in the current season.
|6||Ferrari||2004, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2017, 2018|
|4||Mercedes||2014, 2015, 2016, 2019|
|Red Bull||2012, 2013|
Repeat winners (engine manufacturers)Edit
Manufacturers in bold are competing in the Formula One championship in the current season.
|6||Ferrari||2004, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2017, 2018|
|5||Mercedes||2009, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2019|
|4||Renault||2005, 2006, 2012, 2013|
Year by yearEdit
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Formula BMW Asia supported the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2004, with Hong Kong driver Marchy Lee winning both rounds. But the series had logistical problems after the race, when the cars were delayed on their way to Malaysia, missing the next event and had to reschedule the rest of the season. Formula BMW Asia has not supported the Bahrain Grand Prix since, but the first ever Formula BMW World Final was held in Bahrain. The Porsche Supercup has supported the 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 races. The GP2 Series supported the race in 2007 and a celebrity race was held in 2006 with the likes of Simon Webbe competing.
Gulf Cooperation Council citizens and residents, and nationals of 66 countries are eligible for visa on arrival in Bahrain throughout the year. 113 nationalities, including those eligible for visa on arrival, can apply for visas through an online application process. For the Grand Prix, Bahraini authorities issue a special F1 visa which allows for multiple entries in a defined two-week period around the event. The visa is available to Grand Prix ticketholders and is free of charge.
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- "Bahrain's Crash Course; Formula One drivers for democracy", 9 June 2011, The Wall Street Journal.
- Lubbock, John; Rajab, Nabeel (30 January 2012). "Bahrain has failed to grasp reform – so why is the Grand Prix going ahead?". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- Weaver, Paul; Black, Ian (9 April 2012). "Formula One 2012. F1 teams want FIA to postpone Bahrain Grand Prix". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
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- "Bahrain GP cannot go ahead – Bernie Ecclestone". En.espnf1.com. 8 June 2011. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
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- Adetunji, Jo; Beaumont, Peter; agencies (21 April 2012). "Bahrain protester found dead on eve of grand prix". Retrieved 29 March 2019 – via www.theguardian.com.
- "Journalist Ahmed Ismael Hassan al-Samadi Dies as Bahrain Violence Continues". International Business Times. 2 April 2012.
- Protalinski, Emil (21 April 2012). "Anonymous hacks Formula 1". ZDNet. Archived from the original on 24 April 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- Avenue, Committee to Protect Journalists 330 7th; York, 11th Floor New; Ny 10001. "Freelance Bahraini photographer given 10-year prison term". cpj.org. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
- "Sexually Assaulted Bahraini Female Activist Sentenced to Three Years in Prison over Facebook Comments Criticizing Formula One Race in Bahrain". birdbh.org. 25 June 2018. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
- Yusuf, Najah (27 March 2019). "Every moment I spend in prison in Bahrain stains the reputation of F1 - Najah Yusuf". Retrieved 29 March 2019 – via www.theguardian.com.
- "Bahrain: FIA Urged to Visit F1 Political Prisoners in Jail". birdbh.org. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
- Ingle, Exclusive by Sean (14 November 2018). "F1 finally admits concern over woman jailed for Bahrain Grand Prix protests". Retrieved 29 March 2019 – via www.theguardian.com.
- "Bahrain Electronic Visa Service". evisa.gov.bh.
- "Bahrain Electronic Visa Service". evisa.gov.bh.