Bahrain follows Sepang in that it is a Grand Prix circuit constructed in a country with no tradition of motor racing, but with a desire to enjoy the prestige of being host to a major international sporting event.
Bahrain is not a single circuit but a complex of six individual tracks which includes a drag strip and an oval test track. From the beginning Bahrain was clearly interested in more than an annual event because it incorporated the infrastructure to run club races and to become a centre for motor sport in the Middle East.
The test oval suggests that Bahrain is interested in attracting motor manufacturers who might wish to test prototypes at sustained high speed in very hot conditions. The drag strip suggests a use for all those supercars which are bought by wealthy Arabs and which otherwise receive little serious use. There is no shortage of interest in cars in the Middle East, and no shortage of interest in competition with camel and horse racing being immensely popular, but until the complex opened in March, 2004, there were no bespoke motor sport venues.
To judge from the flexibility of the complex, which cost US$150 million to construct, Bahrain hopes to become the driving force of motor racing in the region. One thing that it cannot have, however, is grass run-off areas.
Despite the fears of a few journalists, the race went ahead without a hitch, so much so that the event was subsequently voted the best organized event on the 2004 F1 calendar.
That said, Bahrain needs the correct infrastructure if it is to attract and retain F1 fans. The lack of hotels, and all the other facilities that fans, teams, drivers, journalists, sponsors and the 'corporate brigade' demand, are sadly lacking. As a result, many people found it easier to stay in nearby Dubai and fly in and out each day.
The track is quite superb, but Bahrain must sort out issues such as hotel accommodation if it is to be taken seriously and not merely regarded as a race-track in the desert.