F1 drivers and cars, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Bahrain wants pre-season testing to return in 2022

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

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The Bahrain International Circuit operators are keen to host Formula 1’s pre-season testing again next year.

This year’s test was relocated from the Circuit de Catalunya after the Middle East track became the season-opening race due to the postponement of the Australian Grand Prix.

Speaking exclusively to RaceFans after the Bahrain Grand Prix, the circuit’s chief executive Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa indicated they are eager to do the same again ahead of the 2022 F1 season.

“I remember in 2014 we did the test,” he said. “This test was a bit shorter, so it was just three days. Hopefully next year we can have a proper test with the new engines and new cars.”

Relocating this year’s test to Bahrain “made sense with everything that was coming up,” he added. “With Australia and all that, to have the pre-season test, to have the opening round, it just made sense.”

Bahrain held two of F1’s three pre-season tests in 2014, at the start of the hybrid turbo era, following an opening test at Jerez. The Sakhir circuit then hosted the second round of that year’s championship; teams left some equipment in Bahrain while they flew to Melbourne and back for the season-opening round.

Australia’s round of the 2021 world championship has been delayed to November. If the race promoters prefer not to hold a second race within six months, Bahrain could be a candidate for the season-opening race again next year. However Al-Khalifa said discussions have not started with FOM yet.

“They haven’t mentioned it, but to me, it’s something that at the track we would like to see,” he said.

“I think this pre-season testing [and] opening round made sense. I don’t know what Australia’s doing or other events, but I did hear that they’re trying to shift to to a later date.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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  • 17 comments on “Bahrain wants pre-season testing to return in 2022”

    1. Even if Bahrain were to become a regular season-opener, I’ve still got a feeling testing will take place in Europe again because getting stuff from a factory to a test site is logistically easier within Europe.

    2. What new engines is he talking about?

    3. Me want Barcelona pre-season testing. Ok I ain’t got no Bahraini gold. But I’ve been to Catalunya for the last 15 years, so we fans are more legit.
      Cash is king.

    4. Pedro Andrade
      2nd April 2021, 10:39

      Testing should be in a non-championship track, otherwise we will tend to get what we have in Barcelona – a track for which teams have so much data, that drivers can drive with their eyes closed and little unpredictability exists.

      If Portimao does not come back after this season, it would be a good candidate to become a regular early season testing spot. Of course, I’m Portuguese so I’m biased, but you get the general idea. There are plenty of grade 1 circuits available for this, either in Europe (Ricardo Tomo, Jerez, Mugello, Aragon) or Asia (Istanbul, Sepang, Fuji), since the season tends to start in either Australia or Bahrain. It would be a great opportunity also to bring F1 to other countries, making the testing an event in itself, and maybe even rotate the place from year-to-year.

      1. Testing can be held in Barcelona with no problems. It’s convenient for the teams during pre-season, you can test and judge all kinds of set-ups depending on the different sectors and judge how a car performs relative to all previous years at the same venue.

        The Spanish GP on the other hand… maybe find another venue that might produce better racing than Barcelona…

      2. Great idea!

        It would also be a chance for not so well-endowed fans to see some actual track time, not just the official F1 “events” that they tend to hold in inner cities all around the world.

        Tickets for pre-Season testing are affordable for almost anyone but not everyone can travel to Spain for that.

      3. If testing should be at a track not in the calendar, they could return to Jerez or move to Nürburgring or Hockenheim when the latter two aren’t brought back next year.

        1. @Dave Southern Europe is the only suitable part of Europe for pre-season testing climate-wise.

          1. Oh well. Estoril can be a possibility then, if Portimao is confirmed for 2022.

          2. Pedro Andrade
            2nd April 2021, 22:46

            Yes, that is why I omitted tracks from Northern countries, otherwise the Nurburgring would be nice as well,

      4. @Pedro Andrade Sepang and Fuji unnecessarily far away from the team factories, so the Gulf region definitely is the farthest suitable outside Europe.
        I don’t know how feasible Algarve would be or how representative for this purpose, but Jerez, Valencia, and Aragon, or even Paul Ricard.

        1. Pedro Andrade
          2nd April 2021, 22:45

          I suggested those races from Asia because the start of the season is already in Australia most of the time anyway (but I’m 100% ignorant on freight routes and logistics…)

    5. It would also be useful to gauge interest without commiting to a full GP.
      Dont F1 want a second US race – get the testing there, to test East/West coast venues.
      Or even some African – North or South country

    6. Most teams are based in the UK, all in Europe. So that’s where testing should be. If Formula 1 and FIA are serious about limiting carbon costs. Also give them more days at the same venue (same reasons). I don’t want to see teams competing without the chance to resolve some basic design issues before the season begins, or without drivers getting a decent chance to learn and adapt to new cars/teams. That’s just fake racing.

    7. “Bahrain wants pre-season testing to return in 2022”
      Well they would say that, wouldn’t they?
      As for the first 4 words of paragraph 3… 🙄

    8. Poor Australians…

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