Bahrain Outer Circuit

Short ‘Outer’ circuit confirmed for Bahrain’s second F1 race of 2020

2020 F1 calendar

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Formula 1 will use a different configuration of the Bahrain International Circuit for its second of two races at the track this year.

The championship has confirmed it will race on the shorter ‘Outer’ circuit for the Sakhir Grand Prix on December 6th. The Bahrain Grand Prix will be held one week earlier on the venue’s familiar grand prix layout.

“We are excited to announce the outer circuit as the format for the Sakhir Grand Prix and want to thank our partners at the Bahrain International Circuit for their continued support,” said F1’s managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn.

“We assessed a number of options for the alternative circuit layout and concluded the outer circuit will provide the best alternative and will provide a new challenge for all the teams and entertain all our fans with high speeds and fast lap times.”

Officially measuring 3.543 kilometres Bahrain’s Outer track will be the shortest circuit F1 visits this year. The Monaco street circuit, which the championship has not raced at this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is shorter, and receives a dispensation from F1’s minimum track length of 3.5km.

The course features nine turns, many of which Formula 1 cars will take flat-out. Simulations indicate lap times in qualifying could be as little as 55 seconds, with average lap speeds over 230kph. This would break the record for the shortest lap time ever seen at an F1 race weekend, set by Niki Lauda at Dijon in 1974, which he lapped in just 58.79 seconds.

The race distance will be set at 87 laps in order to cover the minimum 305 kilometres required by the regulations.

This isn’t the first time Bahrain has experimented with a different track configuration. It used a longer, 6.299-kilometre endurance track for its 2010 race. However the layout proved unpopular, and the championship has raced on the conventional grand prix circuit since.

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2020 F1 calendar confirmed so far

RoundRaceTrackDate
1Austrian Grand PrixRed Bull RingJul 3-5
2Styrian Grand PrixRed Bull RingJul 10-12
3Hungarian Grand PrixHungaroringJul 17-19
4British Grand PrixSilverstoneJul 31-Aug 2
570th Anniversary Grand PrixSilverstoneAug 7-9
6Spanish Grand PrixCircuit de CatalunyaAug 14-16
7Belgian Grand PrixSpa-FrancorchampsAug 28-30
8Italian Grand PrixMonzaSep 4-6
9Tuscan Ferrari 1000 Grand PrixMugelloSep 11-13
10Russian Grand PrixSochi AutodromSep 25-27
11Eifel Grand PrixNurburgringOct 9-11
12Portuguese Grand PrixAutodromo do AlgarveOct 23-25
13Emilia-Romagna Grand PrixImolaOct 30-Nov 1
14Turkish Grand PrixIstanbul ParkNov 13-15
15Bahrain Grand PrixBahrain International Circuit – Grand PrixNov 27-29
16Sakhir Grand PrixBahrain International Circuit – OuterDec 4-6
17Abu Dhabi Grand PrixYas MarinaDec 11-13

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2020 F1 season

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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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51 comments on “Short ‘Outer’ circuit confirmed for Bahrain’s second F1 race of 2020”

    1. Thank you Corona virus for giving us a good calendar. Without you, none of this would’ve been possible!

    2. Fantastic news indeed, props to F1 for mixing it up a bit with this decision.

  1. Cool … outside the “box”, so to speak, as it were. “Flat Out”, “WOT”, works for me.

  2. I’d have thought they would have run one of them at night and one in the daytime, for a bit of extra variation.

    1. From the F1 website:

      The Sakhir Grand Prix will be a full night race with both qualifying and the race taking place later in the evening compared to the Bahrain Grand Prix

      So it sounds like, while both will be night races, the Sakhir GP will have cooler temps etc.

    2. Yeah they wouldn’t do that because of TV times for Europe and the US as well

      1. @milesy-jam In this case, it’s rather about the locals as Sunday is a working day in Bahrain, so evening is better than afternoon in this regard. This was one of the reasons the Bahrain GP became a floodlit race in the first place.
        @Jamie B I was hoping for 17:10 (17:00 for FP2 and QLF) for either both events or 17:10 and 16:10 either way round because of the sunset times at that time of year to get some variation in how the sky looks and changes during the session as in March and April with 18:00 and 18:10 or in Abu Dhabi.

        1. @Jamie B Not necessarily cooler either as the temps are more or less the same on both sides of the end-of-November/beginning-of-December.

  3. Weren’t there rules in place that 1) a race must have 80 laps max and 2) a track may not have lap times under 1 minute?
    Really glad to see F1 doing an experiment like this. Slightly shorter laps on some IndyCar tracks produce exciting races.

    1. No, no such rules exist. The rules state that a lap must be at least 3.5km (except for Monaco), and a race must be just over 305km. That’s it

      1. @Jamie B Not ‘just over’ but ‘at least’ 305 km to be more precise.

        1. And I think monaco is an exception there too, think it’s only like 260 km.

  4. Are we going to have another Monza 2019 Q3 fiasco?

    1. Quite possibly.

    2. part of me kind of hopes so because it was quite funny and gave us a slightly shuffled grid (or did it? I forget), but also think it’s very unlikely. someone will blink or try and get the jump on the rest and the rest will follow. teams may also be able to share tows, given how short the lap is.

      I can’t wait for this – it might be a dud race but it’s something different and we need variation.

    3. Yep! With such a small track finding a spot in qualifying without traffic is going to be paramount, leave it too late in Q3 and there’s a good chance you might not get a final lap in.
      It’s another variable for the teams to have to manage and it could mix things up in qualy if anybody gets it wrong.

    4. It wasn’t a fiasco for me as a fan.
      The teams gambled and lost.
      We got an interesting grid as a result.

      1. @coldfly Oh I agree, and I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to teams having to deal with a similar scenario. The use of the term was more a reference to the media field-day and fan-uproar that followed.

      2. @coldfly as much as everyone said ‘how embarrassing it was’, I thought it was fantastic, in a stupid way, it was a tactical chaos, and good fun to watch, the sudden realisation they weren’t going to make it made me smile. Was it Sainz who gave up and just went for it in the end?

  5. Awesome.
    Hope we get a sub 60-second lap.
    And i think the 2018 Ferrari would have won a race on this track hands-down without a contest. (this statement has nothing to do with the lap times from FP1, Belgian GP 2020 )

  6. Ooh genuinely exciting to see what this brings. Maybe a procession, but maybe some drama, who knows at this point?! At least we’ll find out and not watch two identical races week after week. Good move!

  7. How long are the straights in this track?

    1. It’s the same start finish straight all the Bahrain layouts use, no idea what the length is though

  8. Blue flags! Blue flags! Man, Latifa is gonna get lapped a lot in this race. It’ll probably be a headache for both front runners and back markers but hopefully will be entertaining for us fans.

    1. It’s all straights, passing backmarkers will be easy.

    2. It will be worst for the Ferrari GP2 engine cars

  9. Horrible. Will be a very boring race.

    1. I’m not so sure – most the racing takes place on the home straight and the 2nd straight anyway and it’ll be difficult to find a space to pit and get out into clean air. It’ll certainly throw a different sort of challenge at the teams.

    2. Based on what, exactly?

      1. Probably Mercedes power.

    3. Can’t be as bad as the 2010 Bahrain GP on the Endurance Layout. At least they’re trying something different other than just changing tyre compounds. I thought that reactivating the Bridge layout of Silverstone would have been worth a shot for the 70A GP.

  10. F1: we will race on 2 different Bahrain layouts

    Berlin e-prix 2020: Rookie numbers

  11. Good news, and an even lower lap time than at Red Bull Ring, although whether this layout can rival Monza on the highest lap average speed is another matter. I expect the back straight to also become a DRS zone for this occasion. Nice to have some variation even though this track has historically been racing-friendly, so even using the standard configuration wouldn’t be a bad thing, but still.

    1. Probably even lower lap times than ever. Dijon 1974 is the record holder with 58.79 in the qualification and 1:00.00 in the race.

    2. Feels like this layout doesn’t require DRS as it’s all straights with a couple of corners. They can just draft.

  12. This will make qualifying very interesting due to the extremely short track, particularly in the crowded Q1. With sub-60 second lap times expected, with all 20 cars on the track in Q1, the cars will be less than 3 seconds apart *on average* (and in reality, will be much closer in some groups). This will have all of the drivers dealing with the frustration of finding an empty bit of track like they do in Monaco, but they will be doing more than double the average speed over the lap.

    Can’t wait to see how they all handle that.

  13. I think it’s actually officially 11 corners, but so many will be flat out, like 3, 6, 9 & 11, it’s not really going to matter.

  14. I just hope they don’t add a DRS zone on the new longer straight towards the final corner as I think that will be overkill. I think they should run without any DRS tbh as the slipstream alone will likely be extremely powerful on the 3 long straights with the lower downforce setup they will run.

    Although in the pursuit of quantity over quality I suspect they will run as much DRS as possible & then insist the meaningless highway passing was the greatest thing ever (Which it never is).
    .

    And I know this doesn’t really mean anything but I drove this outer circuit on an Assetto Corsa mod when it was first been discussed a while ago & actually found it to be a really boring layout to drive as it misses out all of the best & most challenging corners from the normal GP layout.

    1. I think they will. And in all honesty, I think if they’re going to use DRS, just use it on all 3 straights and have 3 detection zones.

      1. yep! Basically, make it a DRS track

  15. This is gonna be interesting, looking forward… 2020 is delivering when it comes to tracks being raced on

  16. “entertain all our fans with high speeds and fast lap times”

    Yeah because nothing gets my juices up like fast lap times.. *rolleyes*

    Still undecided about this one. Probably not going to be good seeing as it will favor one type of car characteristic, and good tracks will even it out with sections for all.

  17. Any decision on Portimao layout yet?

    1. Formula1.com shows the full layout, I think. Why go with something else, the full track is the best anyway! (imho)

  18. Great to see another extra ordinary track! Thank you! Let’s see how exciting race it will provide, but I am glad to see that Mr. Ross Brawn makes brave decisions.

  19. If only they would actually drive it like an oval and go the other direction… Then not even the corners they normally drive would be the same!
    Anybody know if this would actually be possible with regards to run-off areas, walls, fencing, etc?

  20. No idea if this race will be good, but just because it’s something different leaves me really excited. Best calendar I can remember.

  21. Methinks Q1, at least, should be split into 2 x 9mins
    Enough for 2 laps, with pit in-between. Some may even fuel for 2 laps.
    ‘Track evolution’ would be just luck of the draw.
    This is on the grounds of safety, not only to avoid the last lap debacle, but serious consideration for those at the back of the train, with the closing speed of any cars that have just completed their flying lap. Also if the last lap on this circuit has all 20 cars, the chances of a yellow/red flag would be very high.

  22. Methinks Q1, at least, should be split into 2 x 9mins
    Enough for 2 laps, with pit in-between. Some may even fuel for 2 laps.
    ‘Track evolution’ would be just luck of the draw.
    This is on the grounds of safety, not only to avoid the last lap debacle, but serious consideration for those at the back of the train, with the closing speed of any cars that have just completed their flying lap. Also if the last lap on this circuit has all 20 cars, the chances of a yellow/red flag would be very high.

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