Bahrain celebrates 10 years of F1 success
Manama, April 5, 2014
As the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) at Sakhir celebrates its tenth anniversary with the country's first ever Formula One night race tomorrow, track officials and associates have looked back on a decade of success.
His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, who launched the BIC's new permanent lighting system in February, has described the night race as an "all new element to an already brilliant racing spectacle," reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
BIC board chairman Zayed Al Zayani, meanwhile, said the addition of floodlights "was simply the next logical evolutionary step."
"Our karting track is floodlit and we noticed that the majority of visitors come during the evening.
"Even though it's a bit warm in the summer, it's still doable and we can run the track for 12 months a year."
Al Zayani pointed out the economic benefits of floodlights, as they enable to track to stay open even in the heat of summer.
"The main track had to be shut down from May until September because of the heat, so we were losing a quarter of the year," he said.
"This upgrade means that we will be able to use the facilities all year round."
BIC corporate communications senior manager Shaikh Hamad Al Khalifa said he was happy to have seen the track evolve over the years to become the lauded and applauded facility it is today.
"I'm just happy that today, April 4, is exactly 10 years since the first race, to the day," he said.
"I like to remember all the milestones. The first race in 2004 and the opening of the circuit, then five years down the road we celebrated the 60th anniversary of Formula One and we had the karting track built.
"Every year the BIC develops and I think we are always trying to put ourselves ahead of the game."
Former BIC chief executive Martin Whitaker, who now runs his own boutique sports and business advisory consultancy, told the GDN it was important to remember that Bahrain's hosting the Formula One gave it membership of a "fairly exclusive club".
"There are only 19 countries in the whole world that arrange Formula One Grands Prix and Bahrain is one of them," he said.
"Formula One is one of the premier events in the world and I think sometimes we tend to forget how lucky we are to have a Grand Prix here."
Looking back over the past decade Mr Whitaker said the stand-out moments for him included the circuit's opening, which was originally due to take place in October 2004 but was moved forward at F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone's request.
"The pressure was on right from the word go to get it finished and they did a superb job," Mr Whitaker said.
"And being awarded the 'best organised Grand Prix' by the FIA that year was pretty significant as well."
The gathering of 18 Formula One World Drivers' Champions - with the cars they competed in - to mark the competition's 60th anniversary was another real highlight for Mr Whitaker.
"It was just the most extraordinary experience and that will never, ever be repeated," he said.
"I think Bahrain by its very nature - we always used to call it the friendly Grand Prix - and I can't think of any other circuit in the world that could have pulled that off.
"Even the simple little things, like being the first circuit to do the track painting, a lot of circuits would paint the run-off areas one single colour but we turned it into a work of art.
"There's a lot of things like that where Bahrain is a leader, and every year the people here try to set the bar that little bit higher," he added.-TradeArabia News Service