Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2024

Event Overview

BIC is set to celebrate its 20th anniversary next year, as the opening round of the 2024 season and its first-ever Saturday night race at the Home of Motorsport in the Middle East on 29 February to 2 March 2024.

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Due to exceptional demand, we have continued to expand our hospitality offerings. This year, we are delighted to offer The Dome Lounge by F1 Experiences, as well as The Champions Club, both tailor-made in response to the massive interest in hospitality options for the grand prix. In addition, the ultimate in world-class hospitality is available in The Paddock Cub Please note that Corporate boxes for 2024 are now sold out.

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Signs of progress in the midfield, as Verstappen continues to dominate

Signs of progress in the midfield, as Verstappen continues to dominate: Analysis of the Austrian Grand Prix, brought to you by Bahrain International Circuit

The Austrian Grand Prix gave fans another chance to experience the updated format of the Sprint race. As a reminder, race qualifying takes place on Friday, preceded by the only practice session of the weekend. Saturday then becomes entirely dedicated to sprint qualifying and the 100km sprint race, with the main race taking its usual spot on Sunday. The aim of such changes is to make the Sprint races an isolated event, with its result having no impact on Sunday’s main event. It also means that with just one practice session, teams have little time to prepare for the main action. Given that many teams used the Austrian race to trial latest car upgrades, there was plenty of uncertainty and excitement for fans to watch out for behind the ever-dominating Red Bulls.

As expected, it was indeed the world champion that dominated all weekend, taking poles and victories in both the sprint race and the feature race, as well as the fastest lap bonus point. Whilst the margin of victory was only five seconds on Sunday, you shouldn’t be fooled by that. Such was his dominant lead, Verstappen had time for a late pit stop and the chance to secure the fastest lap on fresh tyres. All this means that he took a combined 34 points from the race weekend and extends his lead over Sergio Perez (second in the sprint and third in the race) to 81 points. His next challenger, Fernando Alonso, is just shy of 100 points behind. With a run of 10 victories, including all nine races this year for the team, seven of which were won by Verstappen, it’s hard to see results changing at the front any time soon.

As has been the case in the past few races, there was plenty of excitement behind the leader all weekend. Most notably, McLaren brought some major upgrades to Austria for Lando Norris’ car and the impact seems to have been considerable. A fourth place in qualifying and the same result in the race (after others’ penalties – more on that below) showed real progress. It was his best position so far this year and with further upgrades due in the next two races, there is room for optimism at the Woking outfit.

Ferrari also brought additional updates to Austria which seems to have given them a more solid platform for success and Charles Leclerc was cautiously optimistic after qualifying just 0.05 seconds behind Verstappen and achieving a solid second in the race. They are clearly the best of the rest, given that Aston Martin and Mercedes both seemed to struggle all weekend. Silverstone will be a different challenge, however, and will test the car setup more extensively on a high-downforce circuit.

Mercedes, on the other hand, remain confused by their 2023 car. As noted in the last GDN column, they looked to have made real progress in Spain with their double podium, but this weekend seemed like a step backwards, with the team managing a race position of just seventh and eighth. Hamilton seemed as surprised as anyone by this and said that the car felt more like the one he was driving last year.

Another big story of the weekend was that of track limits. There were countless penalties issued over the weekend for cars going off track and it took until five hours after the race for the final result to be declared. Indeed, the FIA had to review over 1,200 suspected cases after the race, from which Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso were the biggest beneficiaries, each gaining one place, and Carlos Sainz losing two places and Lewis Hamilton one place. Overall, there were more than 100 lap times deleted but the solution is not straightforward for the circuit. Typically, one might introduce gravel traps, however this is not suitable for Moto GP, which also races at the circuit.

F1 is straight back into action this weekend, with the British Grand Prix, a much anticipated and historic fan favorite and a home race for many of the teams. With a full house expected at Silverstone and some unsettled weather forecast, it will be one not to miss for fans.

Finally, over the race weekend, there was desperately sad news from Spa, where talented teenage Dutch driver Dilano van t’Hoff passed away, following a crash at the Formula Regional European Championships. Together with the global motorsport family, we send our condolences to his family and friends.