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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Hospitality

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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Verstappen celebrates World Championship with victory in Qatar

Verstappen celebrates World Championship with victory in Qatar: Analysis of the Qatar Grand Prix, brought to you by Bahrain International Circuit

Unusually for F1, this weekend in Qatar was all about Saturday. Due to the points table position and the fact that Qatar was a sprint race format, Verstappen needed only to be within six points of Perez in Saturday’s sprint race to be crowned World Champion. Whilst Verstappen could only qualify third for the sprint, with Perez starting from only eighth there was an inevitability to this crowning moment. And so by late evening on Saturday, when Verstappen crossed the line for the sprint race in second with Perez failing to finish after an early incident on lap 10, the job was done and The Dutchman was crowned World Champion for the third successive year.

The Sprint race itself was a superb advert for this format. Tyre strategies were split, with those running on the soft tyres benefitting early on, but would fade out towards the end of the race in favour of those on the medium tyre. It led to plenty of entertaining racing with overtakes, no fewer than three safety cars and a first win in F1 for Oscar Piastri. Much has been written already about the pace of the McLaren car, but it seemed to go up a level even more in Qatar, with both cars locking out the front row in sprint qualifying. Despite the three separate restarts, Piastri put in a mature drive to keep Verstappen at bay, whilst a poor start for Norris meant he had to fight through the field to earn his third place. Further back, Russell struggled on his soft tyres to finish fourth, with Hamilton just behind, followed by Sainz who also struggled on the soft tyres towards the end.

Earlier in the race weekend, Friday’s main race qualifying was somewhat chaotic, as track limits were being strictly enforced and many drivers had lap times deleted. Norris’ two fastest laps were both deleted, which was a disappointment for the Brit as he seemed to be the only driver who could get close to Verstappen’s pace. Verstappen was so confident in qualifying that he didn’t even bother a second run in the final session, such was his performance advantage. Mercedes managed to take the next two grid spots, which seemed to surprise both drivers. Alonso qualified fourth, with Leclerc and Piastri sharing the third row.

The race itself took place under unusual circumstances. Throughout the weekend, the FIA had been concerned over the integrity of tyre structures, principally due to the impact of track curbs. As a result, the governing body mandated that no tyres were permitted to run more than 18 laps. In a 57-lap race, this effectively meant it was a mandatory three stop strategy. Whilst that took away possible advantage gains from strategy calls, it also meant that managing tyres in each stint wasn’t a problem so they were able to race each lap as though they were in qualifying mode.

As the race got underway, any threat that Mercedes would pose to Verstappen disappeared in lap one when Hamilton and Russell touched. Hamilton went into the run off area and was out of the race with Russell losing several places. It was then left to the two McLarens to fight their way through the field and by mid race Piastri had battled through to second with Norris in third. Although there was a brief time in the last stint where Piastri was within four seconds of Verstappen, the new World Champion had enough in the tank to take victory. It also delivered a second consecutive double podium for McLaren, who are now just 11 points behind Aston Martin in the fight or fourth in the championship. Further back, Russell recovered from the first lap incident to finish fourth, with Charles Leclerc fifth. Sadly for Sainz in the other Ferrari, a technical issue before the race meant that he was unable to start. Ocon, Bottas and Zhou Guanyu completed the top ten.

The final word, however, should go to the newly crowned World Champion. Yes, there was an inevitability about this win, but that shouldn’t take away from his determination to succeed and endless pursuit of absolute performance. There has been plenty of chatter about a lack of challenge from his teammate ensuring an easy path for success and how much is about the car vs the man, given how much faster the Red Bull is compared to any other car. You could write entire books on the subject, but the bottom line is that he could only race against what was presented in front of (or more likely behind) him. His ability to not just win, but to do so almost without a single error all season is hugely commendable. Christian Horner summed it up fairly when he said “I think he is relentless in his pursuit of performance. He doesn’t want to just win: he wants to dominate.” He now joins a list of three-time world champions including Sir Jackie Stewart, Ayrton Senna and Niki Lauda. Being in the same bracket as those greats feels like the most suitable tribute.

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