A big weekend in Bahrain? Sounds like an oxymoron. But with hundreds of thousands of motorsport fans set to descend on the Gulf’s smallest country on March 12-14, the first Grand Prix of the season is expected to go off with a bang. And with Michael Schumacher poised to make his return to F1 in Bahrain, the event is shaping up to be very big indeed.
Most fans will be focusing on the F1, but there are three support races over the weekend so it’s worth keeping your eyes glued to the track. The Chevrolet Supercars Middle East Championship will see some of the region’s up-and-coming drivers – including Bahraini racing prodigy Raed Raffii, one of the youngest drivers on the regional race circuit – competing in the sixth round of the season. There’s also the first round of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercar Championship, and the GP2 Asia Series will be holding the final round of its 2009-10 series, with many future stars of single-seater racing showcasing their talents.
Formula One schedule
Friday March 12
Practice 1: 10am-11.30am local time
Practice 2: 2pm-3.30pm
Saturday March 13
Practice 3: 11am-noon
Sunday March 14
Race starts at 3pm
How to get there
Flights from the UAE to Bahrain can be had for as little as Dhs485 (see Need to Know box, below). Once you’re on the island, hop on a bus (the Grand Prix is practically the only time you’ll ever see public transport in Bahrain). On March 12-14, buses will run to the circuit every half an hour between 6am and noon, returning between 3pm and 11pm. Buses pick up from Bahrain International Airport, Gulf Hotel, Diplomat Radisson, Sheraton, Ritz-Carlton, Regency, Crowne Plaza, Ramada, Best Western Juffair and Al Khobar Plaza, also in Juffair.
If you’d prefer to travel by road, the circuit is about 30km from Manama, and is clearly signposted. A taxi from the city will set you back anything from Dhs150 to Dhs250 one way.
When you’re not watching the races, the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) has conjured up a shed-load of entertainment and food outlets. Legends, a Bob Marley tribute band, will be on stage warming up the crowd with renditions of reggae classics. Another covers band, Patrick-Alan Bob, will be appearing on stage one four times a day. Lisa, an electric violinist from the UK, will be performing throughout the weekend, Brit DJ Hooch will be on the decks, and The Cash Cows will be giving their own take on well-known hits.
A pass for all three days starts at Dhs438, rising to Dhs1,753 for premium seats. Tickets for Sunday only start at Dhs390. To buy tickets, call +973 17 450 000 or visit www.bahraingp.com.
Need to know
Air Arabia flies from Sharjah to Bahrain daily. Return flights start from Dhs485 (including tax). See www.airarabia.com.