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Bahrain Grand Prix: Deep Dive Into The History Of The F1 Event

We take a look back over the years of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Bahrain Grand Prix has become a fixture on the Formula 1 calendar since its inception in 2004. However, the event has not come without criticism and controversy.

Over the years, the Bahrain Grand Prix has produced some memorable moments, including thrilling battles for the win and unexpected downturns. 

In this article, we will delve into the history of the Bahrain Grand Prix, exploring its origins, evolution, and standout moments that have defined the race over the years.

When Was The Bahrain International Circuit Built?


In December 2002, construction commenced on the Bahrain International Circuit. The developers were presented with a sandy and barren terrain. However, they were able to transform it into a technical track spanning 5.4km, with the help of renowned track designer Hermann Tilke. 

The circuit boasts several challenging corners and one of the longest straights on the F1 calendar. Its unique layout has made it a favourite amongst drivers and fans. The track was officially opened in 2004, and since then, it has become a fixture on the Formula 1 calendar, hosting many memorable races over the years.

When Was The First Bahrain Grand Prix?

The Bahrain Grand Prix made its debut in 2004. The drivers assembled on the starting grid under an overcast sky, which was unusual for the desert location. The race was another triumph for the dominant Ferrari team, with Michael Schumacher securing the top spot on the podium, while his teammate Rubens Barrichello finished in second place. Spectators were also treated to a thrilling battle between Mark Webber in the Jaguar and Fernando Alonso in the Renault, which added to the excitement of the race. 

What Happened At The 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix?


Last year's Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20 marked the opening race of the 2022 F1 World Championship. 

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc was the star of the qualifying session, as he secured pole position for Sunday's race. The Monegasque driver went on to win the race and set the fastest lap, giving him an early lead in the World Drivers' Championship standings. 

Leclerc's teammate, Carlos Sainz, secured second place, while Lewis Hamilton took third. 

Meanwhile, Alfa Romeo's rookie driver, Zhou Guanyu, earned a point on his debut. Kevin Magnussen finished in an impressive fifth place, scoring points on his very last minute return to the team after they cut ties with Nikita Mazepin when Russia invaded Ukraine.

The race was not without its share of drama, as Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez both experienced failures towards the end of the race causing the Austrian team to have a double DNF for the season opener.

Who Has Won The Bahrain Grand Prix?

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Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton has had the most wins at the Bahrain Grand Prix with 5 and Ferrari are the constructor to take the most amount of wins at the event with 7.

All Race Winners of the Bahrain Grand Prix

2004 - Michael Schumacher, Ferrari

2005 - Fernando Alonso, Renault

2006 - Fernando Alonso, Renault

2007 - Felipe Massa, Ferrari

2008 - Felipe Massa, Ferrari

2009 - Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes

2010 - Fernando Alonso, Ferrari

2012 - Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull

2013 - Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull

2014 -  Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

2015 - Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

2016 - Nico Rosberg, Mercedes

2017 - Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari

2018 - Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari

2019 - Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

2020 - Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

2021 - Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

2022 - Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Romain Grosjean's Horror Crash At The 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

In 2020, a remarkable incident took place on the track during the Bahrain Grand Prix, involving Haas driver Romain Grosjean, who managed to survive one of the most significant crashes in recent history.

During the first lap of the race, the French driver collided with a barrier at high speed, causing his car to split in two and burst into flames. Despite the severity of the accident, Grosjean was able to escape from the wreckage with only minor burns. However, the crash turned out to be his final race in the sport.

The incident was particularly unusual at the Bahrain International Circuit, which is known for its large run-off areas and wide racing lanes, making it one of the safest tracks in the world. As such, major accidents on the circuit are rare.

It was revealed recently that the burnt Haas chassis will be going on display at the F1 exhibition in Madrid.

Why Was The Bahrain Grand Prix Cancelled In 2011?

According to an announcement on 21 February 2011, the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix, which was originally scheduled for 13 March, was cancelled due to the 2011 Bahraini protests.

Despite concerns raised by Damon Hill, the FIA made a decision on 3 June to reschedule the race for 30 October. Hill believed that if the race proceeded, it would be forever associated with repressive methods to achieve order.

During an interview with the BBC, Bernie Ecclestone expressed his hope that peace and quiet would prevail, allowing the race to be rescheduled in the future. However, he acknowledged that without the agreement of the participants, it was not possible to reschedule the race, emphasising "they're the facts".

A week after the decision to reschedule, Formula One announced that the race for 2011 would be cancelled and not take place that year.

2012 Bahrain Grand Prix Controversy


There were calls from human rights activists for the cancellation of the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix, which was scheduled for 22 April. Reports of the ongoing use of excessive force by authorities and torture in detention were cited as the reasons behind the demand. 

Activist Salah Abbas Habib's killing during a demonstration and photojournalist Ahmed Ismael Hassan al-Samadi's earlier fatal shooting while covering a protest against the Bahrain Grand Prix also contributed to the demand.

An unnamed leading member of one of the teams expressed their views on the matter to The Guardian on 9 April 2012. According to the source:

"The Formula One teams want the sport's governing body to cancel - or at least postpone - the Bahrain Grand Prix because of increasing safety concerns amid ongoing protests in the kingdom.

"I feel very uncomfortable about going to Bahrain. If I'm brutally frank, the only way they can pull this race off without incident is to have a complete military lockdown there. And I think that would be unacceptable, both for F1 and for Bahrain. But I don't see any other way they can do it".

The grand prix went ahead in 2012, despite all of the criticism.

Bahrain Grand Prix 2020 - Back To Back Race Weekends

To increase the number of races in the 2020 season, the Bahrain International Circuit hosted two rounds of the championship amidst the coronavirus pandemic. 

The first of the two races was held in late November and made headlines when Romain Grosjean miraculously escaped the horrific crash. The second race took place one week later and saw Sergio Perez achieve his first win. 

Lewis Hamilton, who had tested positive for coronavirus, was absent from the race and was replaced by George Russell, who was in contention for the win until a late race puncture. 

Both races were held without spectators, but local health workers were invited to the grandstands as a gesture of recognition for their contributions during the pandemic.