The Bahrain Grand Prix has been prominent in the media for the last year and a bit. The 2011 race was cancelled due to political instability in the island state, and recent protests have thrown this year’s race into question. But why is there a race there at all?
The track is arguably the most boring on the calendar. Located in the desert, there is very little backdrop to the circuit, apart from the desert itself. The 2010 race featured almost no overtaking at all. Perhaps DRS will change that this year, but the history of DRS shows that it is most useful on tracks where overtaking is already possible. The 2010 race was run on the “Endurance Circuit”, which is quite tight and twisty. The more flowing “Grand Prix Circuit” (to be used going forward) may facilitate some exciting racing this year.
On the positive side, the track is among the safest in the world, the organisation of the race is standard-setting, and facilities at the circuit are excellent.
Frankly, though, Formula One did not need the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2011. The race added nothing but tedium to the 2010 season, and this year is likely to be no different. There is no huge following of Formula One in the oil-rich country, so what’s the point? It can only be that the Bahraini organisers are willing to pay to host the race.
Formula One seems to be lining up new venues for races. This season sees a return to the United States with a race in Austin, Texas. New Jersey will host a race in 2013. Russia appears on the calendar for 2014. France is in negotiations for a return to the F1 calendar. There have been rumours for some time of a return to South Africa. In short, Formula One is in demand.
Can’t we forget about Bahrain and go somewhere else – preferably without causing political mayhem?