Bahrain CEO: ‘Oval’ proposal surprising, but doable

Bahrain circuit

The Bahrain International Circuit is open to the idea of holding a second race on its ‘almost-oval’ configuration in 2020, the track’s CEO has said.

Speaking about a potential double-header in Bahrain last week, Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn floated the idea of using the circuit’s 11-turn outer configuration to hold one of the races.

“One of the nice attractions of Bahrain is it has many configurations, so we could go to Bahrain and race on two different tracks there,” he said at the time. “There’s a nice sort of almost oval track that would be quite exciting, and all the layouts have a Grade 1 licence with the FIA, so that is an option in the pocket.”

According to BIC CEO Sheikh Salman bin Isa al-Khalifa, the idea had not been floated to race organisers previously, but it is nonetheless being considered.

“We were surprised as well by Ross’s comments!” he told Autosport. “They did say a while ago: ‘Would you be open to running more than one race if we had issues in finding alternatives?’

“That’s the only thing I’ve had officially from F1. That was pretty early on, when they were trying to finalise the European races.

“So we said we can look into that.

“This idea of a different configuration was new, especially with the details that Ross went in to. But it’s interesting, and it is doable.”

Planned for late November-early December, Sheikh Salman admits the logistics of hosting two races would need some work with other categories lined-up for their own events.

“This year is kind of a question mark because currently we can’t run much, but we have interest from race series coming from Asia [for later in the year].

“Also WEC have announced that they are here on November 21. That for me is a concern, running two internationals a week apart.”

Nevertheless, Sheikh Salman is intrigued by the racing the ‘almost-oval’ configuration could offer.

“That loop, which Ross calls the oval, is a separate track from the inner track which we use for club racing.

“It’s a low downforce track. There’s no way I’m going to compare it to Monza, but it’s a track where you’re going to run the cars on minimum downforce, so there will be slipstreaming. Hopefully we can have three DRS zones.”