The Bahrain Grand Prix is a Formula One Championship race in Bahrain sponsored by Gulf Air. The first race took place at the Bahrain International Circuit on 4 April 2004. It made history as the first Formula One Grand Prix to be held in the Middle East, and was given the award for the “Best Organised Grand Prix” by the FIA.
The Bahrain Grand Prix has usually been the third race of the Formula One calendar. However, in the 2006 season, Bahrain swapped places with the traditional opener, the Australian Grand Prix, which was pushed back to avoid a clash with the Commonwealth Games. In 2010, Bahrain staged the opening race of the 2010 season and the cars drove the full 6.299 km (3.914 mi) “Endurance Circuit” to celebrate F1’s ‘diamond jubilee’.
The 2011 Grand Prix, due to be held on 13 March, was cancelled on 21 February due to the 2011 Bahraini protests after drivers including Damon Hill and Mark Webber had protested.
Human rights activists called for a cancellation of 2012 race due to reports of alleged human rights abuses committed by the Bahraini authorities. Team personnel also voiced concerns about safety, but the race, nonetheless, was held as planned on 22 April 2012.
In 2014, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the first staging of the Bahrain Grand Prix, the race was held as a night event under floodlights. In so doing it became the second Formula One night race after the Singapore Grand Prix in 2008. Bahrain’s inaugural night event was won by Lewis Hamilton. Subsequent races have also been night races.
Shortly after the Formula One February 2014 testing, Grand Prix organisers for Bahrain announced a decision to name the first corner of the iconic track after former seven-time champion German driver Michael Schumacher in honour of his achievements and also in support after the driver suffered an almost fatal skiing accident late December 2013.