FIA Bahrain Grand Prix preview

© FIA, 19 April 2012

The Bahrain International Circuit will host the fourth round of the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship. Designed by Hermann Tilke, BIC made its F1 debut in 2004 and was the first circuit in the Middle East to do so. The grand prix has never been won by anyone from beyond the first two rows but neither has it been particularly favourable to drivers on pole – only three times in seven runnings has the pole-sitter gone on to win the race. It has, however, been a circuit that rewards a strong car with six out of the seven races being won by the team that has gone on to win the Constructors' Championship. The one exception being 2010 – though eventual Champions Red Bull Racing were leading the race comfortably until a faulty spark plug caused Sebastian Vettel to fall back.

For 2012, F1 is going back to the 5.4km Grand Prix Circuit configuration as used in 2009, rather than the 6.3km Endurance Circuit on which it raced in 2010. The revision to the earlier layout cuts out a large slow-speed sector of the track, bringing down the number of corners to 15 from 24. One peculiarity of racing in the desert is the amount of dust on the circuit. Bahrain sees a great deal of track-evolution over the weekend as cars clean the racing line. Another factor with the dust is the amount of attention teams pay to air filtration and monitoring engine wear – ingress of sand or dust into the engine is potentially catastrophic.

The circuit itself is very smooth and doesn't have the harsh kerbs seen elsewhere, meaning teams can set ride-heights low but still attack apexes aggressively. This is a heavy braking circuit and calls for unusually high levels of brake cooling. Managing that and providing the right level of traction on the evolving surface are both key technical issues. McLaren go into this race holding a lead in both championships but Bahrain has not been a race at which they have prospered in the past, having neither a victory nor a pole position at BIC.


Length of lap: 5.412km
Lap record: 1:30.252 (Michael Schumacher Ferrari, 2004)
Start line/finish line offset: 0.246km
Total number of race laps: 57
Total race distance: 308.238km
Pitlane speed limits: 60km/h during practice; 100km/h during race

The Bahrain Grand Prix will revert to using the 15-corner Grand Prix Circuit configuration last used in 2009 rather than the Endurance Circuit configuration used in 2010.

There have been no changes to the Grand Prix Circuit since 2009.

► The Bahrain International Circuit is located in Sakhir, near the west coast of the island, some 30km south of the capital Manama. The circuit covers 170 hectares and area also boasts an air force base, a palace, a nature reserve and the main campus of the University of Bahrain.

Fernando Alonso is the most successful driver in Bahrain with three victories from the seven races held at the circuit. Felipe Massa has two victories, Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher both have one victory each.

► Four times in the seven runnings of the Bahrain Grand Prix the winner in the desert has gone on to claim the F1 Drivers' World Championship at the end of the season. Only twice has the defending World Champion won the race.

► The Bahrain International Circuit has two main pit complexes and six potential layouts. Alongside the Grand Prix and Endurance layouts, there is an Inner Circuit, Outer Circuit, Paddock Circuit (as used in the Australian V8 touring car series) and a Flat Oval. It also incorporates a drag strip.

► The surface of the track is made of Graywacke aggregate, shipped from a quarry in Shropshire, England. Graywacke is a type of sandstone prized by racing circuits for offering a high level of grip. Yas Marina, home of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix uses the same aggregate in its circuit construction.

► The Bahrain International Circuit was the first F1 track to be awarded the FIA Institute Centre of Excellence award. The award recognises excellent safety and medical facilities, the training and professionalism of marshals and the high overall standards of technology require to maintain the circuit at this level of excellence. The Bahraini circuit received the award in 2007.

► Both GP2 and GP2 Asia have been frequent visitors to this track. Before his F1 victory in China, Nico Rosberg's previous single-seater victories were here in Bahrain at the final races of the first GP2 season. Uniquely for that season the Bahrain rounds were a standalone event rather than F1 support races. Rosberg won both the feature and sprint races and became the first driver to win both during the same GP2 meeting. In doing so he clinched the inaugural GP2 title. Other Bahrain GP2 winners now racing in F1 are Romain Grosjean, Kamui Kobayashi, Sergio Pérez and Charles Pic.

► Michael Schumacher's lap record stil stands from the original 2004 Bahrain Grand Prix. Three of the first four races of 2012 take place at tracks with a lap record set by Schumacher in 2004.

► Located near the coast in a region predominantly flat, racing at BIC can be affected when the wind changes direction. When headwinds and tailwinds swap on the long straights cars can suffer from seventh gears that are either too short or too long.


Garry Connelly has been involved in motor sport since the late 1960s. A long-time rally competitor, Connelly was instrumental in bringing the World Rally Championship to Australia in 1988 and served as Chairman of the Organising Committee, Board member and Clerk of Course of Rally Australia until December 2002. He has been an FIA Steward and FIA Observer since 1989, covering the FIA's World Rally Championship, World Touring Car Championship and Formula One Championship. He is a director of the Australian Institute of Motor Sport Safety and a member of the FIA World Motor Sport Council.


During a motor sport career that has spanned almost 40 years, Emanuele Pirro has achieved a huge amount of success, most notably in sportcar racing, with five Le Mans wins, victory at the Daytona 24 Hours and two wins at the Sebring 12 Hours. In addition he has won the German and Italian Touring Car championships (the latter twice) and has twice been American Le Mans Series Champion. Pirro enjoyed a three-season Formula 1 career from 1989 to 1991, firstly with Benetton and then for Scuderia Italia. He subsequently spent four years as a test driver for McLaren. Pirro's debut as an FIA Steward came at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and like his fellow stewards this weekend, he officiated at the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix.


Silvia Bellot began marshalling in 2001 at the age of 16. Bellot has been Permanent Chairman of Stewards for the European F3 Open and Spanish Endurance Championships, as well as Permanent Steward of the GT Open International and Andorra Ice Championships, among other national series. A native of Barcelona, Bellot has sat on the stewards' panel at a wide range of championships, including the World Rally Championship, GP2, GP3, BMW Europe, DTM and World Series by Renault. In 2001, she started her collaboration with Catalunya's automobile club, the RACC, and in 2008 she joined the Spanish Assembly and the Circuit de Catalunya officials' committee. A year later, Bellot took part in the FIA trainee stewards' program for GP2 and F1. In 2011 she sat as a steward at the Turkish and Italian Grands Prix.


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