Bahrain gets longer, slower new layout

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The new section after turn four on the Bahrain circuit

Bahrain will feature a new section making it the second-longest track on the F1 calendar when the championship opens at the circuit in March.

The race organisers have decided to use the 6.299km ‘Endurance’ layout for the seventh running of the Bahrain Grand Prix which adds eight corners and 0.8km to the track.

The extra sections of the track have been in place since 2006 but have not yet been used by Formula 1. The circuit owners say the extended version of the track “can play host to a maximum of 120 cars at events such as the 24 Hour Race of Bahrain.”

The extra loops can be seen on the satellite view of the track:

View Larger Map

The tighter, slower section is bound to reduce the average speed around the track.

Bahrian International Circuit chairman Zayed Alzayani said:

The loop was completed in 2006 as part of the built-in evolution of the venue for competitors and fans. We gave it its debut with the inaugural 24 Hour Race of Bahrain that same year where it proved extremely successful, and with the changes to the regulations, the teams and the driver line-ups in Formula One this year it is the perfect time to evolve the circuit with this new challenge and new overtaking opportunities.
Zayed Alzayani

This is the second time the Bahrain International Circuit layout has been changed since it held the first Bahrain Grand Prix in 2004. In 2005 the fourth corner on the track was eased.

The 6.2km track is now the second-longest after Spa (7.004km) and ahead of Suzuka (5.807km). Expect the number of laps in this year’s Grand Prix to fall from 57 to 49 to make up the correct distance.

I’m not convinced a 5.4km F1 track suddenly needs to become almost a kilometre longer just because there’ll be six more cars on the track this year. But I’ll reserve judgement until we see the cars in action.

I wonder if they’ve done this to create a less punishing layout for the cars’ brakes, which as we discussed last week will come in for a lot of punishment this year – and Bahrain was always one of the toughest.

But seeing as many F1 circuits have different configurations, why not use more of them? I think a high-speed race around the 3.6km outer track would be fun.

What do you think of the revised Bahrain Grand Prix circuit?

2010 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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75 comments on “Bahrain gets longer, slower new layout”

  1. HounslowBusGarage
    25th January 2010, 15:37

    Maybe it’s just me, but I always found the Bahrein track rather tedious. And I’m not sure that adding in another kilometre of wiggle is going to aleviate that.
    I’m not sure why the track authorities would want to
    decrease the punishment on the cars’ brakes. After all, a few missed apexes and fluffed braking manoevres could turn a boring race into something far more memorable.
    I’m not sure why they have decided this is necessary.

  2. My my.. so many changes. My brain is beginning to hurt!

  3. This is one of the few tilke tracks I enjoy. I don’t understand the reasoning behind lengthening the track, but we’ll wait and see how it turns out. I did like the quick right left after turn 4. It’s been there a while, so the conversion is not hard at all. I hope the testing laps rack up though, to get some rubber down.

    Also just by looking at the layout it would be cool to have the section after turn 4 a flat out straight to turn that corner into a possible passing zone.

  4. Will this increase overtaking opportunities? That could be another reason.

    1. I think the track is one of the most overtaking-friendly circuits to begin with, but this new section doesn’t have the same tight corners and long braking zones. Given they’ll have to cut the race distance I’d say this won’t help people overtake more.

      1. I think a high-speed race around the 3.6km outer track would be fun.

        Yes Keith, this is the best option !

        1. why are we always seeing tracks being made slower! It’s boring. its not improving the show.

          i bet that apart from the first lap of the bahrain gp no one will gain a position in this sector. And on track spectators will see the cars less, making races more boring to watch from the circuit. The FIA want to fix the cars and the team because they are “broken” but its the FIA who need to sort it out!

          Im Disapointed!

          No one will ever build a modern day Monza if the stupid idea of slow twisty circuits continues

  5. Of course, if you have three or four good, serious overtaking opportunities per lap, then dropping the number of laps is less problematic than if you only have one good chance per lap…

    Still, seems a little odd that it’s such a big extension.

    But I like your point Keith about using alternative configurations more, especially since many of the new Tilkedrome circuits have the opportunity to. There should at least be the possibility with experimenting with layouts to see if you can’t find something better overall for the racing.

  6. Maybe they need to add more grandstands!?!

  7. I don’t think that this “endurance” layout will make much difference to brake usage. It seems to me that this layout adds an additional breaking zone heading into a (tight?) left-right chicane before a slower right hand turn.

    The second hairpin (turn 8?) will have an equally large breaking zone, and beyong that the circuit is the same


    1. it still will have four major braking zones, but now will have a cooling off period between the 2nd and 3rd one.

    2. Matt’s correct in that the existing big braking zones will remain – but they’ll be used less often during a lap, the brakes will have longer to recover between them, and they’ll be used less over a total race distance. So I suspect it adds up to a significant difference.


    Hope you got my point.

    If not I’ll explain :P

    1. What the heck? lol explain that please.

  9. I like Bahrain, the original dessert track, the new layout is ok -and nobody can complain about character being destroyed because it had nome in the first place!

    1. Mmm, dessert :D

  10. I don’t see the reasoning. It doesn’t look like there’s anywhere to pass and it spoils a what was an ok S bend.

    1. Agree. Bahrain may not be a stunning track but it provides entertaining racing with overtaking which would be even better with more cars. It might work ok and I always prefer to reserve jdugement until I see a track in action but I just think they should leave it alone.

  11. It’s us who are going to be doing the enduring…

      1. Wow, now that’s what I call a track. Simple and fast.

  12. Well, the modification doesn’t cut any of the numerous overtaking corners…but it jeopardize the fast “S” after corner 4, that was the most technical part of the track….everything to add a section that looks slow and tricky.
    I would have rather modified the slow right hand hairpin after the “S”, to make it a fast and long right hand corner, well integrated with the fast and difficult “S” that stands before, or at least used the Keith suggested large fast configuration.
    I agree on the point of using more configurations on certain tracks.

    1. David, I was just about to post the same comment.. “jeopardize the fast S after corner 4” … a brilliant section indeed. Atleast it’s they’re trying something different though. Bahrain’s very under rated IMO.

  13. What is the purpose of this change? The circuit was hardly too short as it was. The new loop doesn’t open run past any grandstands or viewing areas, it doesn’t offer any new overtaking opportunities, or interesting corners anything of any interest… it looks very boring.

    They should have gone to the opposite extreme and shortened the track by running on the outer track like Keith suggested

  14. I still believe the mantra should be fewer corners and more laps. The Endurance circuit just looks horrendously overdesigned.

    Remember A1-Ring? What was that, 8 corners?

    1. Never mind that.

      AVUS-ring was even better. :D

  15. i don’t understand how it will create ‘new overtaking opportunities’. (Zayed Alzayani)

    ‘I think a high-speed race around the 3.6km outer track would be fun.’ agreed keith, why don’t they do this!!!???

    1. Perhaps it’s a safety issue? I too would like to see some nice high speed tracks on the calendar, or even (dare I say it) an oval!

      Just to have something different would be great, all the FIA track specifications need relaxing in my opinion, what I would give for a high speed track (old Monza*), or an ultra-length track or some gradient (nordschleife*).

      I know we can’t actually run these tracks I just felt like a bit of a rant, sorry :)

  16. I didn’t like A1 Ring at all…I used to compare it with Osterreichring that was one of my favorite!

    1. It wasn’t a great circuit like a Spa, but in terms of generating good racing and overtaking it worked quite well.

      A bit like Bahrain has been – fairly soulless but the racing is not actually too bad. They are kind of alike in that respect.

      And they were kind of similar overall layouts in terms of track shape, before Bahrain got twistyitis…

      1. I agree on what you said. I’m not against straight-hairpin tracks (in a sense A1 and Bahrein are straight and tight corners sequences), what I like more is that they are followed by some fast corners sectors and gradients. At A1 there was only two left fast corners, really a few.

  17. I just feel sorry for the Codemasters f1 2010 developers… They will have to redesign the track on the game!

  18. If it provides good racing then it’s ok,if not then it’s a disaster.

  19. Charles Carmichael
    25th January 2010, 16:57

    i think it will be most interesting if they decide to use this configuration:

  20. Younger Hamilton
    25th January 2010, 17:01

    if the track distance to increased massively it should mean the number of laps in the Grand Prix should be decreaased

  21. Easy on braking!!! I was about to say the opposite.

    There was a fairly flat out section after turn 4 before which allowed some sort of cooling. Now even that is lost.

    BTW, any news on what will be the number of laps to be completed now? They should reduce by around 16-20% by my math calculations. Any official word on that?

    1. Apart from Monaco, it’s amount of laps which gives the distance over 305 kilometres.

      So 305/6,299 ~ 48,42 laps
      Rounded up -> 49.

      1. That’s what I reckon.

  22. The sketch at the top of the post actually doesn’t match up completely with the circuit as visible in the satellite images. The graphic seems to indicate that a significant portion of the actual track would be cut after the new turn 8, whereas the endurance circuit on the satellite image merely connects to the GP circuit with another hairpin between what used to be turns 4 and 5 on the GP layout…

    1. I wouldn’t rely on Google’s satellite imagery to be totally up to date, they could well have altered the track since the photos were taken.

  23. …and I’ve seen that wrong, obviously. Nothing to see here, move along.

  24. It’s stupid. This makes a processional race even more boring and……processional. The only thing Bahrain has going for it is the control tower that looks like a pineapple.

  25. Anyway I think it is going to be a difficult track. Lot of corners. Difficult, not spectacular, but difficult.

  26. I hope the drivers make a stink about this and it is changed.

  27. James Brickles
    25th January 2010, 17:58

    I approve of the fact that it won’t be a predictable Tilke 56/7/8 lap race distance anymore like we’ve become used to. ;)

  28. The track has no real history, so why not? Variety is the spice of life!

  29. Definitely one of Tilke’s better tracks. Let’s wait and see with this one, but if it is to create “new overtaking opportunities,” then I’m not sure it will suceeed.

  30. Looks interesting, we’ll have to see how it pans out, though I think Keith’s suggestion is superb.

    I never thought that much of the original section but it wad a quick way to get to the downhill hairpins. The most boring part of the track is Sector 3, they should have done something with that.

    Bahrain was always just a drive in the desert for me anyway, so I doubt this new layout will disappoint me, and hey, it might turn out alright!

  31. I wonder if the drivers will want to take a short-cut via the original route.
    On a more serious note, it may be good that circuits use these alternative routes. Silverstone and Abu Dhabi have options to do this as would Paul Ricard if it were to be used again.

    1. This was all Bernie’s idea, this is the first of the short cuts he was talking about…

  32. 6 weeks on Friday until 1st Practice, CAN’T WAIT! :-)

    Amazing how quickly the time goes.

  33. Too many generic curves. They should have less curves but more memorable and distinctive ones.
    Look at Monza : no one says they have too few curves.

  34. Screw all the naysayers… I think this is great news.

    More different, more better. To be able to win the WDC you should have to drive on lots of different types of tracks. The more the better in my mind. I hope to see F1 running on the Ring again in my lifetime. I still think running on the quad oval at Indy would be terrrific.

    Here in the states the Na$crap folks think that Daytona is the “Best racing there is”. Tons of adverts right now on TV. Well, Ok… lets race F1 there! ok… moron left turners… uh… what was your best lap time? LOL…

    Sorry… i cant type because my eyes are tearing up from laughing…

    Ok… I understand the argument about not running these fragile cars on a banked tri-oval. And I am totally behind not doing it for safety reasons although I think it would be one of the most entertaining things ever to put the giant bloated low tech sedans on the same track (catch us if you can, bozos… and Fernando, be extra careful passing JimBob for the 65th time today.).

    Ah, what an impractical dream. But putting more variables into the existing tracks seems like a great idea to me.

    Anyway, (unlike most of Bernie’s stupid ideas) this is a step in the right direction to making F1 better.

  35. so thats 0.8 k longer and 8 extra corners?
    i’d love to know how that will make this track more exciting!

  36. I never liked Bahrain, I’ve found it bland and boring. Now it’s even more tedious. Circuits should be like Spa, not curling around themselves.

  37. I think this change could be quite good. I’m fairly sure that area of land is very unjulating so that could be good.

    Any changes to track and car designs are always exiting to see in action so I welcom this move.

  38. With this change, the top quarter of Bahrain now looks like the head of a bird with its brains spilling out. :|

  39. Bajrain GP organisers and the FIA in the meeting that preceeded this change:

    BGPO: “We want to use the endurance layout for next years Grand Prix.”

    FIA: “Sure, that sounds like a great idea. We love it when the tracks are long, slow and safe.”

    BGPO: “But won’t the race be too long if we run the same number of laps on a longer circuit layout?”

    FIA: “Oh yeah, good point. Ok, let’s reduce the number of laps too.”

    Anyone see the irony here, or is it just me?

  40. “In 2005 the fourth corner on the track was eased.”

    It was??!

  41. At least with this new configuration the track will have something different than the Tilke’s classic straight/hairpin combination. The new portion will be medium/slow corners, but it will give the track a personnality.

    Nevertheless, the best option would have been to use the outer track, for faster racing. They seriously should consider that.

  42. Magnificent Geoffrey
    26th January 2010, 8:51

    Having Bahrain as the curtain-raiser for the season was not a very exciting prospect at all, especially considering how much of a let down the race in ’06 was in terms of spectacle and atmosphere. With this extra section, who knows? It may throw something new and exciting into the mix for the first race of this new 26-car era. It’s making me more hyped about the start of the season at least!

  43. Lap time will increase to 1’50”, I think. The new complex appears to be very slow.

  44. Wow, loving the outer track. That should provide some overtaking. It reminds me of old Silverstone!

  45. Fully agree Bruce. Fully agree.
    It would be a great chance to see some “old style” races, on an old style track.

  46. Love the look of that outer circuit but i think the brakes would last about 4 laps. Also they’d never do it cause it would be too fast.

    But be bang up for putting bahrain into “speedy season” of monza and spa. (ie australia and asia races, bahrain, monza, spa, monaco etc. etc.)

    1. Be tough to do from a weather point of view though. When it’s decent in Bahrain it’s raining and cold in Belgium and Italy, and when it’s (comparatively) decent in Belgium and Italy, people and machinery would be liquefying in Bahrain.

  47. old silverstone without the fast corners…

  48. “Tighter and slower” usually means less of a chance to overtake and therefore boring! UUGGHHHH WHYYYY!!! *&^%$”!

  49. All the modern F1 tracks are mediocre becaose they are slow and have a “start/stop” nature about them. I say use the outer ring of Bahrain to bring back a taste of the old days with great racing tracks not a ‘city’ traffic styled race.

  50. I watched a V8 Supercar race the othe day on Eurosport.

    It was the race at Abu Dhabi. It was brilliant to watch, then I spotted the number of cars on track…. 29.

    And then I noticed that they were using…… the short course, (the cars turned left before the chicane/hairpin section).

    Then it struck me, why can’t F1 have more cars in a race then the 26??

    Also, looking at the map of Bahrain, the outer ring of the track would make for a great race!! Monza the 2nd! Almost…

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