Formula 1 will race on two separate track layouts in Bahrain this year, with an outer circuit set to produce lap times below one minute.
The Bahrain International Circuit will host two races at the end of the season, ahead of the final round in Abu Dhabi. The original Bahrain Grand Prix was rearranged having been set to be the second race of the season, and the Sakhir circuit has multiple track layouts that will include a unique one used for the second of its two events.
While the first race will take place on the usual layout on November 29, the second race — to be called the Sakhir Grand Prix — on December 6 will use an outer circuit layout that uses a more open Turn 4 and a few sweeping changes of direction before a flat-out run that rejoins the track at what is usually Turn 13. In total, the outer circuit has just nine real corners and at 3.543km (2.202 miles) will see the fastest lap times on the calendar.
F1 predicts qualifying lap times will be under 55 seconds with race laps under one minute, and managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn says it was important to choose a layout that offered a different test for teams.
“We are excited to announce the outer circuit as the format for the Sakhir Grand Prix and want to thank our partners at the Bahrain International Circuit for their continued support,” Brawn said. “We assessed a number of options for the alternative circuit layout and concluded the outer circuit will provide the best alternative and will provide a new challenge for all the teams and entertain all our fans with high speeds and fast lap times.”
The layout will be prepared and tested over the coming weeks, with BIC CEO Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa saying F1 will be the first international series to race on it.
“We thank Formula 1 for all their work in analyzing options for our second race and it’s a great testament to our venue that we will be able to hold what is likely to be very contrasting races on consecutive weekends,” Sheikh Salman said. “Our outer track has never been used for international competitive racing, so will be a new and exciting challenge for all participants.”