The Bahrain Grand Prix has experienced a difficult time in Formula 1 over the past ten years. Despite dwindling attendances and political unrest that resulted in the cancellation of the 2011 race, the kingdom has made it to a landmark stage with this weekend’s event marking the 10th anniversary of the inaugural grand prix in Bahrain.
As part of the celebrations to mark a decade of Formula 1, the race at the Bahrain International Circuit will be a night race for the first time, starting at 6pm. Already in practice and qualifying, there has been a noticeable improvement to the atmosphere and image of the event, and the officials are keen on making the night race a yearly event.
However, this is also an important race in the history of Formula 1 itself. Today’s grand prix is the 900th world championship event, with the first being the 1950 British Grand Prix. The 800th was also a night race at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, which was marred by the Renault crash-gate saga.
Jenson Button is also celebrating a big milestone today as it will be his 250th grand prix start. The British driver made his debut at the 2000 Australian Grand Prix, and won the 2009 world championship with Brawn GP. Having won his 200th race (the 2011 Hungarian GP), Button has a habit of living up to the big occasion, but from P6 on the grid he might have to settle for third place at best today.
For pole-sitter Nico Rosberg, this race is his 150th start in Formula 1. The German driver made his debut at this circuit in 2006 with Williams, where he set the fastest lap. Should he manage to win today’s race, he would equal his father’s tally of five victories in Formula 1. Given the pace of the Mercedes car, it is hard to bet against either Rosberg or teammate Lewis Hamilton taking the checkered flag first.
The 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 10:30am ET today.