Which track should Bahrain use in 2011?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

The new section of track added little to the Bahrain Grand Prix
The new section of track added little to the Bahrain Grand Prix

If the point of the new course at Bahrain was to give us a greater appreciation of the old track it worked. I didn’t hear many people have a positive word to say about the new layout.

But the organisers claimed the new loop was designed to improve overtaking opportunities – at which it failed miserably.

So what should they do next year? Stick with the new course or go back to the old one? I say neither – they should try some of Bahrain’s other configurations instead.

New Grand Prix Track

New Grand Prix track
New Grand Prix track

Lap length: 6.299km
Laps: 49

I’m at a loss to explain why the Bahrain Grand Prix organisers felt adding almost a kilometre of tight, narrow, slow corners to their circuit was going to make overtaking easier.

The drivers called it “very slow” and “nothing special”. The teams complained about the bump in turn six. And only seeing the cars come by once every two minutes can’t have been much fun for the spectators at the track either.

Old Grand Prix Track

Old Grand Prix track
Old Grand Prix track

Lap length: 5.412km
Laps: 57

The original Bahrain Grand Prix circuit had a reputation for being one of the better circuits for overtaking thanks to its long straights leading into big braking zones and turns one and four.

Outer Track

Outer track
Outer track

Lap length: 3.664km
Laps: 84 (estimate)

The outer track follows the more interesting part of the new track including the controversial turn six bump. But instead of turning right into the very slow sequence of bends, it links up with the original track in the final sector.

I think there’s a lot to be said for this layout. The shorter lap length would make it harder for cars to escape traffic and it includes all three of the major overtaking zones.

Paddock Track

Paddock track
Paddock track

The Bahrain Grand Prix website says this track is “for spectator-friendly series such as the Australian V8 Supercars.” Why can’t F1 race on the ‘spectator-friendly’ track?

Lap length: 3.7km
Laps: 83 (estimate)


Which Bahrain track should they use in 2011?

  • New Grand Prix Track (2%)
  • Old Grand Prix Track (34%)
  • Outer Track (46%)
  • Paddock Track (17%)
  • No preference (1%)

Total Voters: 1,893

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You can see the different configurations available on the satellite map of the track:

New Bahrain Grand Prix track

154 comments on “Which track should Bahrain use in 2011?”

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  1. In terms of uniqueness and opportunity, I would be interested to see a race on the outer circuit. Three potential slipstreaming spots and long straights for slipstreaming would create some opportunities, especially if we’d possibly be going to see a return of KERS in some configuration for next season.

    It’s hard to say if the race at the weekend would have been more interesting had they stuck with the old Grand Prix layout. The narrower front tyres and the cars’ dependence on aerodynamic efficiency could still have made it hard for the drivers to follow each other closely.

    Using the paddock track, in my opinion, would just take away one potential overtaking opportunity, the run to turn 4 in the other layout variations.

    1. (In my second sentence, I meant to say overtaking spots… ;-))

      1. plus obviously oils slicks, blazing tar barrels, oncoming traffic, underpasses, snipers and random drive-through penalties..

        1. Zandvoort, Brands Hatch, San Marino. Anywhere else.

      2. next year cars will be prepared

      1. Hahahaha! that got a giggle out of me ^^

      2. I cant agree more with you, Tommy!

      3. Its the changes to the cars and regulations that made the bahrain gp a bore, not the changes to the track; although they didn’t help.

        the combination of long wheel bases,heavy cars, tyre wear conservation, the rear diffusers that gave button the championship
        last year and yes the changes to the track, have all contributed to
        the dull race on sundy.

        so why do u want ppl to go “race somewhere else” TommyB, I wonder!

        isn’t that a little dramatic…oh oh yeh, i just got it, you were joking
        right! silly me :|

        1. ***Its the changes to the cars and regulations that made the bahrain gp a bore, not the changes to the track***

          I don’t agree, we have been watching V8 Supercars race around this track for 4 years now and I am yet to see a single interesting race. Yes most times it’s the cars and not the track, but in this case it’s both.

          It’s a dull track with boring racing and no atmospher, leave it alone and find somewhere else to play.

      4. Thats awesome. I agree!

        1. Nah disagree totaly tommy, who do you think cares about good racing more, the organisers of the Bahrain, Chinese, or Turkish grand Prixs. Who consitantly makes the most effort to improve their circuit year on year when their race is already one of the most secure on the calender, who is willing to make mistakes to improve a circuit they’ve received some pretty unjust complaints about. (excluding china where the complaints are justified).

          So if that really is your opinion where think we should go instead? Quatar? Because Bernie wants his middle East Grand Prixs we’re going to end up somewhere. Bahrain gets top marks for effort even when they get it wrong, hopefully next year they get it right, but what does rubbishing the circuit acheive.

          1. Well, I don’t agree, I prefer to rubbish it.

            But this is the first post an alternative viewpoint I’ve read. Good on you for having your own opinion….

          2. Totally agree with you Scribe! I am from Bahrain and know how much effort is put in every single race. Bahrain is a small country so it is easy to reach out to all of the citizens, and the organizing committee have done an astonishing job in marketing F1 to the public, which resulted in a great increase in attendance.
            Also the Bahrain International Circuit has done an amazing job in hosting the first grandprix. Every year is an improvement on last years’. The event lineup was great. Having all the Formula 1 champions and their cars was an honour. The entertainment is better and better every year, the concerts this year caused the crowds to stay at the circuit till late hours of the night. The BIC also remains active trough out the whole year hosting local races as well as international ones. This is very important because motor racing fans have something to look forward to throughout the whole year, this really makes Bahrain the motor sport hub of the Middle East. I am confident that the Bahrain GP will continue to improve, and will take in the criticisms and try to improve them for next year.

            Having said that, I must say I was disappointed with less pit action, for ppl sitting in the Main Grandstand there was less action for them to see. I’m not sure on where I stand about the new section, I feel I want to see more races to see how much of it was the new rules’ fault. Could there have been more overtaking under the older rule?

            @ Keith It’s true I did appreciate the older circuit more just for the fact that the cars went around faster and it allowed more overtaking. But the newer section makes the Bahrain circuit more challenging. I felt it added more difficulty for the drivers and added more character and obstacles to overcome. This didn’t really improve the racing or overtaking, but did make it more difficult for the drivers.

            The outer track is definitely an interesting option a lot faster but I think it’s a big change. I do like some of the inner parts of the circuit like the 90 degree corner and turns 19 and 21.. So I guess the old track would be the best option based on the feedback, unless the rules change.

            I attended the race so to me it was beyond exciting! The first race of the season, the anticipation, the predictions, who is going to win, how well will Schumacher do, are the new teams ready… It was enough to hear F1 cars zooming again! So I’m pretty sad that everyone else thought the race was boring.

            The race for me started off with an interesting start with the smoke from Webber’s car, then the retirements, the first pit stops came in very exciting, then I can see where the boring part came in, as I expected more pit action or something.. The time flew and Vettel was getting slower and it became interesting again as the podium winners zoomed past Vettel and then the checkered flag so it ended with a high.. I did notice that cars lapped at a much slower pace and I did want to see more pit action. But it was still exciting to see it live.. I’m planning on watching it before the Australian GP to truly judge how it felt like.

            I’m hoping bring more challenging tyres to the Australian GP, and can’t wait to see whether the new rules affect the race or not.

      5. one more vote on this one! pls forward this to bernie.
        there are hardly any spectators.the race was so boring cos the guys were racing with the desert as spectator.

      6. Why can’t we just have all 19 races at Interlagos?

        1. I’d miss Spa…..

          Actually, A race on the moon would be good for ratings…. Do you think Bernie has considered it?

          Attendance might be a bit low. stupid locals…
          Actually It would also meant that Bernie could start the race while the moon was over Europe…. just in case us Aussie’s considered watching…

      7. The races are notoriously poor in Bahrain so I would happily see fF1 move to a new “old” track like San Marino or South Africa instead.

  2. The outer track looks the best as it is simple.
    Reminds me of the A1 ring.

    1. i loved the A1 ring, redbull should make it F1 ready for a 2011 return.

    2. Thats what I was thinking. Would be good to get a fast low downforce track back, like the old Hockenheim

  3. WidowFactory
    16th March 2010, 10:22

    The outer track looks a bit dull, it’s almost an oval. Voted paddock track, it’s a nice length, has a number of different corners and looks like it has at least 3 good overtaking areas.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      16th March 2010, 11:08

      How many passes have you seen down into that left-hander that would be turn five?


      Now, how many have you seen going into turn four?


      You’d be willing to sacrifice one of the best overtaking areas in favour of a corner that isn’t good for passing?

      1. Quite so, PM. The paddock circuit is also totally devoid of fast corners.

        1. What about 4, 5 and 6?

          If 5 isn’t a fast corner then? well, what is?

          But the straight before turn 4 won’t help passing, at all. The fast left doesn’t allow for the cars to get by.

          1. I’d say those were medium speed corners, personally. Copse at Silverstone, 130R at Suzuka – those are fast corners.

  4. I voted Paddock track because it seems a unique layout.

    I actually think Fota or the drivers should choose the layout of each circuit. They know where it would be possible to overtake better than anyone.

  5. They should try the outer track. With no double diffuser next year, cars can follow other cars more closely and we might see more overtaking.

  6. I voted for the outer – I like the speed and flow, overtaking oppertunities.

    The streets around the hotel / building complex north of the track look more interesting though.

  7. I voted outer, theres a lack of high speed tracks, to many neutered with chicanes, or just dropped of the calendar full stop, the outer track there does look pretty quick.

    It sounds like the crown prince was hinting at keeping the new track for next year though, minus the bumps.

  8. I voted the old GP track. I think with this year’s race, F1 fans have come to appreciate that configuration a whole lot more.
    The outer circuit has a lot going for it, but I can’t see a GP happening there. Though it would definitely give the track that bit of zest it needs, it has a 99% chance of never happening. The paddock circuit, I think, is nothing special, and has a ridiculously slow start to the lap. And the information on the official website is out of date, because the V8 Supercars used the old GP circuit this year. :P
    I can’t understand why Bernie allowed the use of the Endurance layout in the first place. Didn’t he call for the maiming of Hockenheim because he had this grand vision of cars passing by spectators every ninety seconds? Time-wise, and I’m assuming length-wise, the layout of Bahrain they used this year was even longer than the old Hockenheim – and certainly, time-wise, longer than Spa!

    Some things in F1 we will never understand.

  9. I voted outer track.
    Short and very fast configuration, nothing similar in the calendar. I think it would be much easy to overtake also: low aerodynamical load cars, lots of straights and great slipstream effects.
    Why not trying it?

  10. to be honest, i think there better tracks out there. Bahrain should be pulled from the season

    1. where was the croud? something tells me there will be even less bums on seats next year in bahrain.

  11. Having seen the Paddock track a few times for the V8 Supercars, trust me, you don’t want it. Its really not very good at all to actually see. It may look interesting on paper, but in practice its a shocker.

    The V8 Supercars went to using the old GP track this year as they shared a meeting with the GP2 Asia, and its much better than the Paddock layout.

    Old GP track for me.

    1. yes, i was glad they switched tracks

  12. The paddock or the old GP track would suit me.

    The outer track looks boring, bland and doesnt look as if it will really challenge the driver, and that’s what the Bahrain GP is all about really. I’m all for fast turns and what not, but there needs to be a couple of slow corners too to test the driver’s braking skills and see who has more courage going into each bend.

    The old GP track was fine before, but even if it was used, I doubt there would have been much more overtaking than what we saw at the weekend.

    The V8 circuit reminds me a lot of Monza for some reason. It could be good, but again, it probably wouldn’t challenge the driver’s braking skills.

    However, the thing I did like about the extended circuit was the bumps on that section of the track. The drivers whinged about it, but it really challenged the drivers – yet again, that is what F1 is about as well, challenging the drivers and making them earn their pennies!

    1. yes! thats what i thought when i saw the bumps on tv for the 1st time – i was excited. The track is the same for everyone, so to a certain extent, get over it and get on driving – it is suppose to be hard and challenging especially for the ‘best drivers in the world’.

  13. Both the outer track and the paddock track are too short for an F1 race. I don’t mind the new layout, it doesn’t increase overtaking opportunities but it is clearly a challenge for the drivers (that’s why they were complaining about it so much!) However I think the best choice would be to go back to the original 2004-09 layout.

    1. What’s “too short”?

      The more laps there are and the shorter each lap, the more times the slow cars will be lapped and the more chances there will be for the leader to be held up behind one – unless of course he is excellent at overtaking, which of course the best driver should be!

      1. Actually, having looked at the relevant FIA regulations, both alternative circuits are over the specified minimum length for an F1 circuit (3.5km), but only just. Nonetheless, Monaco excepted, it’s been a long time since we’ve had circuits of comparable length in the championship (Aida and Adelaide, both last used in 1995, were the last tracks to have 80+ laps).

  14. I voted the outer, looks like an interesting prospect. Looks similar to an oval, i.e. slip streaming opportunities, but with a few corners as well. I hope they’d consider it, but I doubt they would.

    That guy that spoke during the race said they wanted their track to have some character, but it’s hard to hard character when you’ve just plonked a track in the desert, so why not go for something a bit different and go with the outer track :) like untitled258 said, there’s a bit of a lack of high speed tracks.

  15. I’d love to see another properly fast circuit like the outer track: it would also have the big bump leading onto a long straight, as I mentioned in yesterday’s round-up.

    Unfortunately it’ll never happen: I’m guessing they’ll use the long track, with the challenge ironed out following an inspection by Schuey’s Bump Flattening Committee.

  16. I would love to see a race at the outer track. It would certainly introduce a slipstreaming element, and it would be much more unique on the calendar with very low downforce. The old Hockenheim always produced great racing and unusual results, and I’m sure on the outer track the Bahrain GP will be a race to be anticipated rather than a race to be endured.

  17. I voted outer track. Following the track thinking of F1 cars I think this would be very nice actually. Also provides enough laps to do something strategically interesting.

    1. I looked at it again, and maybe all tracks are good but we should be driving in the other direction?

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        16th March 2010, 12:38

        Then there would be nowhere to pass.

  18. Outer. Not exactly a great configuration (not one fast corner), but there might be some overtaking.

    Can’t see it happening though ;-)

  19. The organisers should use the old er track in future.

  20. The organisers should use the older track in future.

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