THREE MONTHS AND COUNTING TO THE FORMULA 1 RACE IN BAHRAIN
A recent trip to the Kingdom of Bahrain for their bi-annual international air show had me pass by the F1 circuit every time I was going to or coming from the show ground at the Sakhir Air Base, and memories came back how the long awaited season opener last year had to be postponed, and was in the end cancelled to the lasting regret of the global racing fans who, in the short time Bahrain was a race venue, had come to love the circuit, the people and the country.
Gulf Air, official carrier of the Bahrain International Air Show, is of course also the official carrier of the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix and main corporate sponsor as the 4th race of the 2012 season is named The Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, taking place between 20th and 22nd April this year.
The airline, as witnessed, has a number of their aircraft advertising the event and in fact one Airbus A 330 is painted in special F1 livery, flying the message across their network.
F1 has become a global brand, a profitable business and attracts not just hundreds of millions of spectators every season through their broadcasts on leading TV stations, but also has many faithful following the trail of the teams, some for one, others for two and a few who can afford it for quite a few more races around the globe.
20 races are on the calendar in 2012 until the new champion will be crowned at the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo on the 25th of November, although in the past the title was often long gone as the last few races went underway. Travelling to the season opener in Melbourne / Australia will be a relief for those who thrive on the fumes of F1 fuel or for whom the sound of the car engines is music in their ears, and a week later it is already time again to fight for pole position when the Kuala Lumpur Petronas Grand Prix goes underway. Over China and Europe the season moves to Canada, then back to Europe before going East again to Singapore and Japan, Korea and India, and then criss crossing the globe one last time this season, via Abu Dhabi to Austin / Texas before heading to the final race of the season in Sao Paulo / Brazil.
Bahrain built their F1 course in 2004, a source of national pride back then, and was awarded the coveted FIA Centre of Excellence Award in 2007, recognizing the immense contribution the circuit and all the staff had made to F1 motorsport. Sadly, a year ago, the season opener, a special honour for any circuit of course, had to be first postponed and then eventually cancelled altogether, when what appears to have been externally sponsored political unrest swept the country. When asked, Bahrainis from all walks of life assured me during my recent visit that the entire country was looking ahead for this years race and that there would be no repeat of last years scenes in the streets, which the government eventually got under control with the assistance and support from Saudi Arabia. During the BIAS 2012 Air Show, attempts were made to demonstrate and foreign inciters were blamed by official sources this correspondent spoke to, and in the end nothing came of it, the international media present concentrating on the air show and not the attempted side show political firebrands had in mind. My prediction is that the Bahrain Gulf Air Grand Prix will go ahead in April and I will, as always, watch the race from the comfort of my arm chair, qualifying sessions and all, with special fondness and pleasant memories from my recent visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Visit the F1 website for all the race details and available official package tours to all the venues via www.formula1.com/…travel/tickets_and_travel _landing.html or else chose any other specialized travel agency or tour operator easily found on the web.