The construction of the Bahrain International Circuit was a national objective initiated by the Crown Prince, Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa. The Crown Prince is the Honorary President of the Bahrain Motor Federation.
Designed by Hermann Tilke, the same architect who has designed the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, the circuit, which has six separate tracks, including a test oval and a drag strip, cost approximately £100m ($150m).
Positioned in the middle of a desert, there were fears that sand would blow onto the circuit and disrupt the race. However, organizers were able to keep the sand off the track by spraying an adhesive on the sand around the track and planting flag-like windbreaks.
The surface of the track is made of Graywacke aggregate, which was shipped from Bayston Hill quarry in Shropshire, England. The surface material is highly acclaimed by circuit bosses and drivers for the high level of grip it offers. The same aggregate material is used at the Yas Marina Circuit for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Initially race organisers were worried that the circuit would not be complete in time for the inaugural 2004 Grand Prix and attempted to cancel the event; however, Bernie Ecclestone refused their request. Subsequently, though the circuit was not fully complete, it was good enough for the grand prix to go ahead on 4 April. It was won by Michael Schumacher.
In 2007 the BIC became the first Grand Prix circuit to be awarded the IA Institute Centre of Excellence award, given for excellent safety, race marshal, and medical facilities, and for the high standards of technology required to maintain these.
At the 2009 Grand Prix, BIC announced a collaboration with @bahrain to develop land next to the circuit. @bahrain is part of the Mumtalakat group of companies. @bahrain will dedicate more than 1 million square meters of business, entertainment and educational space with a value in excess of US$2bn, making it one of the largest investment projects to take place in Bahrain in the past five years.
In 2011 the circuit was scheduled to host the first GP of the season. However, due to civil unrest in the country the race had to be cancelled in March 2011. In early June the FIA announced that the race would be scheduled for October 30, the original slot for the inaugural Indian GP, which would be shifted to a season-closing date on December 11. However, two days later following concerns from teams and other officials, organizers officially cancelled the race, choosing to focus their attention on the 2012 event.
Heavy braking into Turn 1 provides a good overtaking opportunity. No penalties for overshooting the corner so over optimism is not unduly curtailed. Exit of this corner calls for driver delicacy on the throttle when tyres are worn.
The more kerb you can take at Turn 2, the more speed you can take down the straight which follows. Turn 4 is another overtaking opportunity, with heavy braking from the preceding straight, wide entry and plenty of space on exit.
Front wing is set to balance the car through Turns 6 and 7 while the entry to Turn 10 is difficult. You need to be in the correct track position after Turn 9 and the un-weighted inside wheel can easily lock. Sufficient speed needs to be carried on entry, but it's easy to out brake yourself here. There is a long serrated kerb at the exit to Turn 10 which is best avoided.
Another heavy braking zone into the final corners, with any mistakes on entry penalised heavily by a lack of exit speed onto the main straight. Snap oversteer is a possibility through here, which again will damage speed onto the main straight. Gearing for the straight is always a difficult call in Bahrain, as the wind can affect matters here.