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 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 FIA 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.
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.
Fast Facts - Provided by the FIA
2018 marked the 14th Bahrain Grand Prix. The first event took place in 2004 and it has been held every year since except 2011.
Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel are the most successful drivers in Bahrain with three wins each. Alonso won in 2005 and 2006 for Renault, and 2010 for Ferrari; Vettel won the 2012 and 2013 races for Red Bull, adding a third last year for Ferrari. Ferrari are the most successful constructor with five victories, with Michael Schumacher winning the inaugural race in 2004 and Felipe Massa adding back-to-back victories in 2007 and 2008. Lewis Hamilton also has backto-back victories in Sakhir, winning for Mercedes in 2014 and 2015. The other winners are Jenson Button (2009) and Nico Rosberg (2016).
Despite never having won the Bahrain Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen has more podium appearances at this race than any other driver. His eight podiums comprise three third places (2005-2007) and five seconds (2008, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016).
Nico Hulkenberg and Stoffel Vandoorne both made their F1 debut at this circuit. Hulkenberg raced here for Williams in 2010, a year when the Bahrain Grand Prix was the opening race of the season. Stoffel Vandoorne made his debut for McLaren in 2016 as a late replacement for Fernando Alonso, when the latter was ruled out on medical grounds.
Last year in Bahrain Valtteri Bottas took his first pole position. The Finn followed that with three more during the course of 2017. Of the current field, Alonso (2005), Vettel (2010, 2012) and Hamilton (2015, 2016) have also started from pole. Current Williams reserve driver Robert
Kubica started from pole position for BMW-Sauber in 2008.
Starting from pole hasn't been very useful in Bahrain: only five times has the pole position driver converted the advantage into victory, with Hamilton being the most recent to do so in 2015. The eventual winner, however, has never started from further back than the second row, with both Alonso (2006) and Button winning from P4.
Four drivers are making a Bahrain Grand Prix debut this weekend - though all four have raced previously at the Bahrain International Circuit. Sergey Sirotkin and Pierre Gasly both contested all four GP2 Championship races across two events in 2015, with Gasly taking pole position at
the November meeting. Charles Leclerc raced here last year at the Formula 2 season opener, finishing third in the Feature race and winning the Sprint. Brendon Hartley made all four of his 2012 GP2 starts at this circuit, with a best result of 10th. He has, however, been a frequent visitor with the FIA World Enudrance Championship, appearing for Porsche at the 6 Hours of Bahrain in each of the last four seasons.
Sebastian Vettel is due to start his 200th grand prix this weekend. He mirrors the achievement of Alonso and former team-mate Mark Webber who also made their 200th start in Bahrain. Vettel's win in Australia two weeks ago was his 100th visit to the F1 podium. In terms of podiums, the German driver is fourth on the all-time list, with four of the top six in the current field. Schumacher leads the way with 155 podiums, followed by Hamilton (118), Alain Prost (106), Vettel, Alonso (97) and Raikkonen (92).