Opening its doors officially to the public in 2004, the Bahrain International Circuit is now one of the top go-to places for people engaged in friendly motorsports activities. The circuit was the setting of the first Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One Championship in the Middle East, which was held on the 4th of April in the same year of its opening. The 2004 Bahrain Grand Prix was the third round of the race, won by Michael Schumacher for Ferrari.
The BIC, as it is now known, was the brainchild of His Royal Highness Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and Honorary President of the Bahrain Motor Federation. It served to satisfy his objective of increasing the world’s awareness and appreciation toward the Kingdom of Bahrain. The track layout itself was designed by German Architect Hermann Tilke, the same person who took charge of designing the Malaysian, Turkish, Chinese, and Valencian Grand Prix.
It was a tentative 2-year project, but was pushed to faster completion by the FIA itself. Through the determination and hard work of all those involved, it was ready for use in just 16 months. Thus, it made a big mark in Bahrain’s history, and received an award from the FIA for being the ‘Best Organized Grand Prix’.
The BIC’s full circuit length runs at 6.3 kilometers and has 6 tracks, namely the Grand Prix track at 5.4 kilometers, the Oval track at 2 kilometers, the Paddock Circuit at 3.7 kilometers, the Outer track at 3.7 kilometers, the inner track at 2.6 kilometers, and the Drag Strip at 1.2 kilometers.
The project was done with CybarCo WCT as the main contractor. The company used a material called grawacke aggregate, imported from a quarry Great Britain, to construct the surface of the track. This surface material had a high level of grip and was exceedingly praised by both Formula 1 drivers and circuit bosses. Meanwhile, sand from the surrounding desert was prevented from blowing in and disrupting the races by using an adhesive that was sprayed on the sand that surrounded the whole track. The construction cost reached a total of $150 million, but is said to be all worth the cost.
Boldly rising out of the desert sands of Sakhir, it is now a world-renowned motorsport venue. Strategically located 30 kilometers into the desert south of Al-Manamah, the capital of Bahrain, it plays a big role for the Middle East in the world of motorsports. Aside from the yearly Grand Prix, it also holds thrilling and engaging activities throughout the year that promotes young racing talents, friendly local competitions and love of the track. Examples of these activities include drag racing and 24-hour endurance races.
The success and distinction now enjoyed by the Bahrain International Circuit is partly thanks to the commitment, professionalism, and passion displayed by all the people responsible for making this dream into reality. It is a source of not only delight for the kingdom, but also of pride and an overwhelming sense of patriotism. The BIC continues to raise the flag for Bahrain as a sign of excellence.