Bahrain International Circuit – Sakhir

The Bahrain International Circuit is a located in the Sakhir desert. The $150 million facility features five different track layouts which is more than any other circuit. As well as F1, it also plays host to the World Endurance Championship, the Porsche Mobil Supercup and some of the GP2 Series.

On April 4th 2004, Bahrain became the first country in the Middle East to host a Formula One Grand Prix. Formula One fans travel from across the globe to witness the desert action beneath the magical night sky, when the temperatures are more bearable for drivers and spectators.

Many fans have found Bahrain to be a good holiday destination, with its archipelago of islands and stunning resorts. Do remember the intensity of the heat, wearing a hat when you are outside and using a high factor sunscreen, as well as drinking plenty of water.

As it has been designed with the spectator in mind, the Bahrain circuit is a truly thrilling place to watch F1. Comfortable, covered grandstands with moulded plastic seating, provide views of multiple sections of the circuit with its wide track, long straits, and slow corners…custom designed for overtaking.

“The track is very technical, you have some slow corners and then you end up in some really fast corners which makes it a fun circuit.”

Max Verstappen – F1 Driver

Although the layout of the track is enticing to race-goers, ticket options can be slightly limited, due to the desert location. The Batelco grandstand is a good option as you get views of the cars coming into Turn 8, charging through 9 and 10 and then passing by on the way down to Turn 11.

Another decent option is the grandstand which sits outsides Turns 1 (Michael Schumacher turn) and 2, giving views of overtaking, no matter what the track layout.

Most tickets are for three-day events at Bahrain but there are a limited number of one-day tickets available for the Oasis/Batelco Grandstand. All tickets provide a reserved seat for that day. There are discounted tickets for children aged 3-12 and for children under 3, the admission is completely free. There are no ‘roving’ ticket options available at this circuit at the present time.

Although the circuit is often described as being in the middle of the desert, it is in fact surprisingly close to Manama, the capital of Bahrain, where the overwhelming majority of visitors will be based. You can even go racing yourself at the International Karting Circuit, located adjacent to the track. 

It first ran during the day but soon found a wider audience and more exciting racing under floodlights so converted to a night race along with the Singapore Grand Prix and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

As for accessing the venue, the level of organisation is outstanding. With ample parking and plenty of shuttle buses you’ll enjoy a hassle-free 32km journey to the circuit which lies to the South of Manama. Check with your hotel as many provide these shuttles for free or a fee; booking onto one of these will make your journey to the circuit even easier. 

It is worth noting that the security screening is incredibly thorough; any food or drink will be confiscated so don’t take a picnic! Wi-fi is available throughout the vendor area and you can tune into 107FM to access commentary in English.

The consumption of alcohol in the grandstands and any of the general areas is strictly prohibited at this circuit. Situated between the Main Grandstand and the Turn 1 Grandstand, the VIP tent is the only place in the entire complex where you can buy alcohol, apart from the F1 Paddock Club, on top of the pit garages.

When the desert heat becomes too much, you can enjoy all the action from the track on one of the big screens; you’ll find these in all of the air-conditioned lounges.

Viewing areas

Main Grandstand

The Main Grandstand, positioned opposite the team garages, on the circuit’s back straight, is the perfect spot from which to enjoy the beginning and end of the race, as well as all the pit stops in between.

Here you can also catch the build-up and some pre-race action as well as fantastic views of the podium celebrations when the race has ended. 

In the distance you’ll see some other key vantage points but due to the location, your live viewing is intermittent and you’ll end up watching most of the race on the huge screens opposite the grandstand.

The location of this covered grandstand, opposite the pits, makes it the most expensive despite not have the most comprehensive live views of the race. 

Amenities are plentiful here as it’s directly next to the F1 Village and the entertainment centre.

Views in to the pit garages are excellent here thanks to this being a night race. Garages are fully illuminated from within giving you a view of everything they’re doing to ready the cars for each session.

Victory Grandstands

The two Victory Grandstands are situated on the closing part of the circuit, at the end of the back straight, boasting views of the final corners. The stands sit at Turn 14, at the end of the straight, where you can expect to see the drivers accelerating as they enter the main start/finish straight.

The Victory Grandstands, although located close to each other, offer very different views of the circuit. Grandstand 1 has poorer views of Turn 14 but you get a great view of the infield Turn 11 from here. 

The second grandstand sits at the apex to Turn 14 where you’re bound to catch some overtaking – it’s an amazing spot for photographers who want to get shots of the corner, as well as the cars at lower speeds.

Despite catering for a lower budget, giant screens in these covered grandstands still provide all of the action throughout the race. Not too far from the main vending area, there are limited refreshments for sale nearby.

Turn 1 Grandstand

The mid-budget seats in this covered grandstand give you a view of prime over-taking spot, Turn 1 (Michael Schumacher turn), so you’re guaranteed some action and photo opportunities here; everything else can be viewed on one of the giant screens. This first corner is particularly tight as the drivers have to break from over 330km per hour down to just over 60km per hour. 

Beware: this is a long, covered grandstand and the seats in the blocks nearer the grid don’t have the best few of the turn as it’s just a little too distant. 

Conveniently, a short walk will take you to the main vending area, situated behind the main grandstand.

University Grandstand

This low-budget covered grandstand, which is the best in its price-range, actually consists of three mini grandstands. 

Occupying the first sequence of three corners that feed the cars towards Turn 4, Grandstand 1 is the one with the more superior views in fact, Grandstand 1 probably has one of the best aspects of the entire circuit as it also enjoys views of prime overtaking spot, Turn 1.

On the downside, it’s quite a trek to the bigger refreshment stalls, which are situated down behind the main grandstand.

The walk can take up to 15 minutes, which doesn’t sound like much but in the desert heat, this can be exhausting for some fans; fortunately, there are limited refreshments available to purchase nearby.

Oasis Batelco Grandstand

This mid-priced covered grandstand is a great all-rounder, located just behind the pit building.

Its panoramic views make it hugely popular, with fans enjoying the action from turns 6 to 12, with distant views of turns 13 and 14 on your right and the straights between turns three and 4 on your left. 

After exiting slowly from Turn 11 the track goes uphill into Turn 12 which means that the cars are climbing as well as changing direction rapidly.  Drivers must get the Turn 14 exit exactly right as it falls slightly off-camber on the entrance to Turn 15.

Turn 8 is also close, 10 and 11 are visible and there is a strait directly in front of the grandstand. 

The Batelco doesn’t just provide the most comprehensive views of this circuit (almost 60% of the track!) but one of the best in F1. It is also served by giant screens to view the rest of the race. Limited refreshments are available nearby but for a wider selection, visitors must make their way to the main vending area behind the main grandstand.

The best grandstand at the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix

For the best views at the Bahrain Grand Prix you’ll want tickets for the Turn 1 Grandstand. To your right you’ll see the starting grid and to your left the action-packed first corner. You can also see a fair distance up the track from here and you’re close to all the entertainment too.