This was the first Formula One race in Bahrain and the first ever Grand Prix in the Middle East. At first, the drivers were apprehensive, wondering how the desert sands would influence the cars’ performance during the race and of the hot weather in April. Yet the race took place with much success, giving F1 legend Michael Schumacher his third victory of the season and his 73rd F1 win overall. In second place, Ferrari teammate and Brazilian Rubens Barrichello came in 1.367 seconds later, followed by Jenson Button for BAR-Honda. Michael Schumacher went on to win the entire F1 season.
Bahrain ran the third round of the 2005 Formula One season and it was contested over 57 laps with Fernando Alonso for Renault coming in first pole position, followed by Jarno Trulli for Toyota and finally Kimi Räïkkönen for McLaren-Mercedes. Alonso went on to win the entire season. The biggest margin between pole and second on the grid in Bahrain F1 history happened this year when Alonso beat Michael Schumacher to pole in qualifying by 0.455 seconds.
The third Bahrain Grand Prix was the opening round of the whole 2season and saw the debut of Nico Rosberg, racing with the Williams team. He set the fastest lap of the race and held the record for being the youngest driver to do so. It also happened to be the debut race for the BMW Sauber, Toro Rosso, Midland F1 and Super Aguri teams, as well as drivers Scott Speed and Yuji Ide. The qualifiers were a disaster for Kimi Räïkkönen as he suffered a right rear suspension failure, forcing him to retire and deciding his 22nd place on the grid. However, in the main race he gained more places in the Bahrain Grand Prix than any drivers had since 1993 that year, rising 19 places to finish up third overall. Fernando Alonso came in first, followed closely by Michael Schumacher. Schumacher became the highest-scoring second place finisher in the world championship. Alonso went on to win the season.
The 2007 Bahrain leg was less eventful, as it was the third round of the Formula One season, although Lewis Hamilton did make history by being the first driver ever to finish on the podium in all of his first three races. He came second as Felipe Massa took first pole, followed by Kimi Räïkkönen in third place. Despite coming third, Räïkkönen went on to steal the show for the season.
For the second year in a row, Bahrain hosted the third round of the Formula One season, which was contested over 57 laps. It was an adrenaline-fuelled weekend which saw Robert Kubica, for BMW-Sauber, score his only Formula One pole as he came in third. At the time it made him the fifth-youngest polesitter in F1 history. Meanwhile, Kimi Räïkkönen climbed onto a F1 podium for the 50th time, coming in second. The overall race was won by Felipe Massa for Ferrari for the second consecutive year and despite the fact that Lewis Hamilton came in 13th place in the main race in Bahrain, he went on to win the 2008 F1 season for Ferrari.
This was the year for Brit Jenson Button to steal the show as he won the Bahrain Grand Prix, driving for the first time for Brawn since it took over the former Honda team, starting from fourth on the grid, and went on to win the 2009 season overall. Sebastien Vettel finished second for Red Bull and Jarno Trulli for Toyota in his first Bahrain win since 2005. Overall, it was a great year for Button as later in the year he came second in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award and was also appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to motorsport.
An exciting weekend of firsts took place in 2010, as Bahrain held the opening round of the season. It was also the first (and only) time the race had taken place on a lengthened layout of the track. Three new teams joined and five drivers made their Formula One debuts meaning 24 drivers were involved in the race – the largest grid at a Grand Prix since 1995. Reigning champion Jenson Button also made his debut for McLaren, and seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher returned to F1 with Mercedes. Fernando Alonso sped ahead, followed by Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton. But Sebastien Vettel won the season.
The 2011 race was cancelled due to unrest in the country but the 2012 Grand Prix raced ahead. The series reverted back to using the old track for the race and it also started at 3pm for the first time to be more friendly for European viewers. Throughout the weekend there was a range of support events that took place too, including the first round of the 2012 Porsche Supercup season, the second round of the 2012 GP2 Series and the WGA Supercars ME Championship. The main race was eventually won by Romain Grosjean for Lotus-Renault in third, followed by Kimi Räïkkönen in second, and Sebastian Vettel in first pole. Vettel also went on to steal the season’s crown.
For the fourth year in a row, Sebastien Vettel was the star of the 2013 Formula One season and for the second consecutive year he also sat on first pole position in Bahrain. It was a less eventful fourth round of the F1 season which marked the 200th Grand Prix for driver Mark Webber. Even though Nico Rosberg started the main race for Mercedes from pole, Vettel stole the race, followed by Lotus F1 drivers Kimi Räïkkönen and Romain Grosjean (the exact same pole line-up as 2012).
This was perhaps the biggest event for Bahrain since the first ever Grand Prix as it changed to being Formula One’s third ever night race and marked the tenth anniversary of the Bahrain chapter, as well as the 900th World Championship event.
The second qualifying race and the main event both started at 6pm local time with drivers competing under the track’s all-new flood lighting system.
This particular Grand Prix was most notable for an entire race-long battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, both for Mercedes, as well as a nasty collision on lap 41 between Pastor Maldonado and Esteban Gutiérrez.
Hamilton ended up winning the race, followed by Rosberg just over one second behind and finally Sergio Pérez for Force India-Mercedes 24 seconds later.
This was Force India’s second ever Formula One podium, the first of which was scored by Giancarlo Fisichella in 2009 Belgian Grand Prix.
Hamilton went on to win the season for the first time in six years.
The year work began on the Sakhir-based circuit
Tonnes of stone was used to build the entire circuit
The number of times Fernando Alonso has won the Bahrain race
Podium appearances by Kimi Räikkönen, three in second place and three in third place
The lap record set by P Dela Rosa in 2005
Circuit length in kilometres