Rumours in Bahrain

In the course of the Bahrain GP there were lots of rumours. I heard stories about Qatar becoming the first race of the F1 calendar in 2014, and of Bahrain itself moving to that position. I heard stories of the Bahraini’s installing floodlighting and running their event at night.

Anyone in the paddock can pick up such stories, and they can be amplified by the pretend-F1 websites and news-trawling organisations that dress themselves up as experts, but the real skill these days is figuring out the truth from the clutter.

The first point is that Bernie Ecclestone is very happy with Bahrain. He says that they do “a super job” and that is absolutely right when one looks solely at the organisation. On top of that most of the people running the show are now locals, rather than imported experts, as is the case in some of the other newer races, so there is a local infrastructure that has grown up in the 10 years since the first race. Ecclestone says that would happily offer Bahrain a new contract from 2017 until 2022.

The Bahrainis would like to move the Grand Prix to the start of the F1 season, in order to get more viewers, but there are good reasons not to do this as well. The weather in Australia is one such reason. The later that race goes, the less good the weather might be. There are also other questions such as the Aussie rules football season. As it is, the Melbourne date is perfect for Melbourne and they do not want to move. They have moved the race towards twilight to please Mr E’s demands of better programming times in Europe.

Thus, my view is that if there are stories about other races wanting the first race slot, it is most likely part of a negotiation process over the future of the Australian GP.

Qatar is a local rival to Bahrain and it has floodlights at the Losail International Circuit, which is located just outside Doha. This has never hosted F1, but it might be a useful lever over discussions about Bahrain running races under lights.

The Bahrain circuit people say that they are in F1 for the long term and there is no reason to doubt that.

36 thoughts on “Rumours in Bahrain

  1. I don’t understand why Bahrain would have to install floodlights when its already on at a decent time in Europe?

    1. My thoughts in this regard (even though it is based on rumour and speculation) is that it might make sense to move to an evening race to attract the local crowds, since Sunday is a work day in Bahrain.

      But, in the grand scheme of things, the local market is probably less important than the global market. While having a full grandstand might look good on TV, it probably won’t overcome the cost of a bad TV time for the main TV markets.

      Regardless, it sounds like it was all just rumour, anyway.

  2. What is the advantage of running Bahrain under lights? Its already at the same time as the European races? I know this because I have to stay up until 2am to watch it.

  3. If Melbourne was run any later in the year, it will have to be either run earlier in the day or under lights itself…….

    1. Melbourne in mid-April after daylight savings has ended, meaning the race would have to run under lights i.e. 8pm, suddenly the race would be on at 11am European time, no need to rise early – how convenient for Bernie!

  4. we as marshal team from Bahrain would like to see a night race because of the heat as it will get a new aspect to the race action – different temp tyres/track- with good decent lighting for media and drivers …

    plus the turn out from people in the kingdom will be grater – as Sunday is a working day in Bahrain – so we will have a bigger crowed to cover all the seats in the Bahrain international Circuit.

    less traffic on the streets and better weather for the fans coming to Bahrain … you can see the sparks flaying when the cars are passing all over the circuit.

    we can have fireworks, laser shows, lights, and more visual effects and make the circuit shine all over the world … some of the things I was able to think off and come up with …

  5. I would rather keep Singapore as the only night race to be honest. I don’t get the advantage Bahrain would get if it turned into a night race. Maybe they’d gain a few more spectators, but they’d have to cover the whole track in flood lights, with no shadows etc. wouldn’t that be quite expensive?

  6. to be a tad earlier in the year would be better as the heat is just a killer in April in Bahrain. Quite a few people suffered with heat exhaustion as they walked around the F1 village this year and I think too that cooler weather would mean a higher turn out of spectator.

  7. Not to mention the build up and hype around the Australia GP is heads and shoulders better than that of Bahrain. This is better for publicizing the sport, but that probably won’t factor much if the check from Bahrain is big enough…

  8. What’s your take on Bernie and Jean T statements over the weekend? Jean T seems to have gone from wanting to keep F1 out of politics to F1 being a force for good in the world.

    As for Bernie, as an observer through media sources, both good and bad, he seems to be developing a knack for sticking his foot in his mouth. For example, stating that someone should have told him before setting the 2013 calendar that there are issues with Bahrain and then later in the weekend there was something about Bahrain being “stupid” to host a race.

    To paraphrase Horner, “Bernie, this is silly.” I’m sure some of the quotes are taken out of context but more often than not I’d rather Bernie just keep mum, sit in his trailer and count his money.

    1. Pretend F1 sites are those that suggest that they have access to inside F1 in F1 when in reality they are being written by people who have never been near an F1 Paddock, and are never likely to get there.

  9. Joe, are there any efforts being made to put Melbourne under floodlights or move the start time to earlier in the Australian afternoon?

    I only ask because there seems to be a real risk of a panic in race control if they ever have to delay the start or red flag temporarily due to rain or a messy collision. As it stands, delays to the Australian GP would probably mean red flagging due to low light. With the fixed 4 hour race slot imposed after “that” Canadian GP, I’m surprised that FIA/FOM aren’t looking to ensure that they a race *can* be run throughout the 4 hours after the start time.

    1. Bernie is certainly still pushing for a night race, no doubt towards the end of the season as the contract discussions heat up it will be on the agenda once more…

      I would prefer the race back in the 2pm slot, perhaps even 3pm.

  10. Bahrain’s been going 10 years?

    I don’t remember a single one…Sky was running them all under the ‘classic races’ banner which struck me as false advertising…

    1. I remember 2010 very clearly. It was hyped up to be really interesting to see if the tyres would actually hold up what with no refuelling etc. And off course Schumi was supposed to blitz the field too.
      Shame it was a bit of a bore (remember everyone wanting to change the tyres afterwards?) and ultimately decided by a car problem for Vettel

      1. And it had the wonderful ‘endurance’ layout, with no refuelling the first five laps seemed to take fifteen minutes… And yes it was one of the most boring races in recent years up there with Valencia 2011!

  11. Qatar might have everything, except the most important. The circuit layout is just horrible for car racing. Horrible as in desperately abysmal. Not even Pirelli and DRS can save it. Even Bernie must be awar of that.

  12. Joe i have to admit that the bahrain orginisation and the curcuit infostructure looks very impressive and very profesional. Are there any news of more car manurfactures trying to enter F1?

  13. If Bahrain were to change to a night race then what Ahmed Aldoseri says above seems to make a lot of sense.

  14. well Qatar host the opening round of MotoGP, under lights, so its an obvious connection to make for the Losail circuit organisers and assorted scribes visiting the region,, though obviously that throws a bit of scheduling contention F1 and Moto Gp like to use the same circuits (MotoGp have just visited the Circuit of the Americas in Texas), but rarely a week or two apart and whether thats the right move for F1 to end up having 3 gulfcentric races, what next a street race round Dubai.

    Whilst the region is overflowing with money, it does little for spectators watching on TV, or the teams one suspects given the crazy travelling, or the “World” championship aspect which is how Bernie has negotiated out of a Eurocentric hub for F1 anyway and all still whilst a continent as large as Africa has no race at all, so maybe a bargaining tool for other races, maybe just a quick Bernie style reminder to the Bahrainis that there are always alternatives.

  15. For Qatar they will build a new circuit around the industral area – where they have their drag race strip at the moment and not near losial – motogp circuit.

  16. The only rumour I’ve read about Qatar is it becoming a pre-season test venue. It’s warmer and is already rated for F1 testing (apparantly).

    Then again, maybe I’m reading the wrong sites 🙂

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