Formula 1 has confirmed that Bahrain will stay on the calendar until 2036 inclusive following agreement with the promoter, the Bahrain International Circuit, to extend its contract.
One shudders to think of the sort of money that has changed hands especially as Bahrain will be determined to retain its prestigious opening slot on the calendar.
Then again, with F1 understood to be drastically cutting its spending – hence the ongoing haemorrhaging of staff – the deal might not be as eye-watering as we think.
The announcement comes on the same day as McLaren, which has enjoyed significant Bahraini investment, launches its 2022 contender.
The Bahrain Grand Prix has been on the F1 calendar since 2004 and hosted two races in 2020 during the pandemic.
The facilities at the circuit for both racing and the fans have recently undergone further investment to enhance the experience. Alongside this the promoter has already announced significant actions to increase the environmental sustainability of the event with all energy used by the Grand Prix in 2022 coming from sustainable energy sources, meeting the BIC’s needs throughout the race weekend, and beyond and supporting the Kingdom and Formula 1’s plan to have net zero carbon emissions by 2030. The plans will reduce the venue’s carbon footprint and generate significant savings on overall energy costs.
“I am delighted we will be racing at the Bahrain International Circuit until 2036 where more incredible racing and excitement will be on show to thrill our fans,” said Stefano Domenicali. “Since 2004 we have had some fantastic races in Sakhir and we cannot wait to be back there for the start of the 2022 championship as we begin a new era for the sport.
“Bahrain was the first country in the Middle East to welcome Formula 1 and it has a very special place in our sport, and I personally want to thank HRH Prince Salman and his team for their dedication and hard work throughout our partnership and look forward to the many years of racing ahead of us.”
“It has been a great honour for Bahrain to host Formula 1 since 2004,” added Arif Rahimi, Chairman of Bahrain International Circuit, “and we are delighted that this new commitment cements our place on the calendar well into the future. Our commitment to motorsport has always been a long-term initiative and I thank Stefano and his team at F1 for putting their faith in us to continue to deliver the pinnacle of global racing at The Home of Motorsport in the Middle East.”
“After 18 years of F1 racing, we are proud to have played a part in F1’s rich history,” said Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, Chief Executive of Bahrain International Circuit, “and we now looking forward to continuing to build on that heritage well into the future. The growth and interest in Motorsport in Bahrain and the Middle East has significant momentum, with a new generation of fans embracing our great sport and we look forward to continuing that progress.”
“As an integral part of our diversified portfolio, we are proud to witness the successful trajectory of Bahrain International Circuit,” added HE Khalid Al Rumaihi, CEO of Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company. “Building on Bahrain’s significant motorsport heritage, BIC has hosted major regional and international motorsports events such as the Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. The extension of the Bahrain race to 2036 is a testament to the advanced infrastructure in the Kingdom and will contribute to its continued economic growth and value creation for both our shareholders and the people of Bahrain.”
Of course, the big question is, will F1 even be around in 2036… highly unlikely if there are any repeats of the Abu Dhabi fiasco.