Initiated by His Highness Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Honorary President of the Bahrain Motor Federation, and opened in 2004, the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) hosts the annual Bahrain Grand Prix, a round of the FIA Formula One World Championship. This makes it a key part of the sport’s elite.
But it was always intended that the circuit would be more than just a part of the top echelons of world motorsport, although this is of course a huge honour. It has always been our ambition to be the ‘home of motorsports in the Middle East’ due to our friendly, community atmosphere, our promotion of national championships and fostering of a wide variety of motorsports from local series, to drag racing and karting.
BIC’s ability to run two — of our seven! — tracks simultaneously, our international standard drag strip, our desert obstacle course for 4x4s, and our track days for bikes and cars have introduced the thrills of motorsport to thousands of competitors - some as young as nine – and to hundreds of thousands of fans.The track, designed by Hermann Tilke, cost approximately US$150m, but the return on the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s investment has been many-fold.
Media interest in Formula One throughout Middle East and North Africa has increased massively since the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix’s inauguration in 2004. In 2006 it leapt by 780 per cent, its total value and airtime exceeding that year’s Winter Olympics in Turin.
BIC has built wisely on the success of our prestige event — on and off the track. Our landmark eight-storey Sakhir Tower, luxury VIP lounges, hi-tech conference facilities and five-star catering have given the region a significant corporate entertainment and conference facility and made the track a serious destination for corporate clients.
But more importantly BIC plays a fundamental role in the community. Since 2006 our Advanced Driving Centre and BMW Performance Centre have been part of the FIA’s Think Before You Drive global road safety campaign
In 2007 BIC’s past successes and forward-thinking attitude saw it become the first of the current grand prix circuits to receive the FIA Institute Centre of Excellence trophy.
Designed by Hermann Tilke — the architect responsible for the Sepang, Shanghai, Istanbul Park and Valencia GP venues — BIC’s ingenious layout means that two of its track circuits can run simultaneously.
This flexibility allows competitors and fans greater access to this world-class facility, and also provides for a wide diversity of motor sports: Formula One, junior single-seaters, Australian V8 Supercars, international and national drag racing and long-distance GT/sports car/saloon racing, and track days for cars and motorbikes.
BIC’s infrastructure is equally impressive: a 45,000 seating capacity, including 10,500 spectators in the main grandstand; the eight-storey Sakhir Tower, with its roof terrace, VIP suites, restaurant and administration offices; 47 VIP hospitality suites; a state of the art pit-and-paddock complex for 11 GP teams; and 18 dedicated buildings for international racing teams.
The separate Oasis Complex, meanwhile, provides a second pit building for support race and vehicle testing technical support and a 3000-seat grandstand.
BIC’s Race Control bristles with the latest technology, including 41 remote-controlled security cameras with zoom capability that enable officials to monitor every aspect of the track from a central point.
Its Medical Centre is constructed and equipped to stringent FIA Medical Commission and international racing standards. The Media Centre can accommodate 500 journalists and provides them with 260 TV sets. The Photographers' Centre caters for 120, and there is a separate facility for broadcast journalists and their crews.
The car parks have spaces for 13,000 cars.
It’s no wonder that BIC became in 2007 the first circuit to receive the FIA Institute Centre of Excellence trophy.