The management at Bahrain International Circuit has revealed that it is looking to host the opening grand prix of the season permanently.
The track in Sakhir heralded the return of Formula One after the winter break in 2006 (due to Melbourne hosting the Commonwealth Games), and in 2010. However, following the cancellation of the race in 2011, Bahrain has returned to its original placement as the fourth race on the calendar. This could all be set to change though, according to circuit chairman Zayed Alzayani.
“It’s a good start to the season,” Alzayani told Reuters.
“It gives us the chance to have the teams here longer, there is more anticipation, more unknowns, how the cars will react to the new tires, the regulations, the drivers are just back into their rhythm.
“But the decision is not entirely ours. We are talking about 2014 onwards but it’s a bit early to talk about the calendar for 2014.”
Bernie Ecclestone has welcomed the idea, although he did concede that the teams would have to be consulted.
“The only problem we have – not us, but the teams – is the cost of the logistics in coming here and going back to Europe,” Ecclestone said.
However, to get around this, Ecclestone would arrange a pre-season test to be held in Bahrain to make the race more convenient.
“That is one of the advantages of having the first race, in that they can come to the last test and then leave most of their equipment here until race weekend.
“So if we go after the first race, then we will go after a test as well but again that is not our decision.”
The opening race of the season has traditionally been held at Albert Park in Australia, but with their officials uncertain of the future of the grand prix, Bahrain could be set to open the F1 season from 2014 onwards. The timing of the race in Bahrain is also more suited to American and European audiences, which would probably be reflected in the viewing figures.