Over the last 10 years, Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) has made the transition from being the first regional venue to host major international motorsport events to becoming one of the most established and valuable circuits on the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. We take a closer glance at this interesting specimen.
What’s behind it all
According to industry monitor Formula Money, the Bahrain Grand Prix’s annual contribution to Formula 1’s GDP is well over $270 million and the race’s annual local economic impact is $295 million. That’s pretty impressive, but why is that? Well, it’s one of the highest viewed races on the calendar, the number of TV viewers and spectators exposed to Bahrain since 2007 because of Formula 1 is some 3.8 billion people. Also, the overall tourist numbers in Bahrain have increased by 60% since the first Bahrain Grand Prix in 2004.
Another secret of success is that BIC is not just about Formula 1. Having just celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2014, BIC is as committed as ever to developing a rich motorsport programme in the Middle East and engaging more people across the region in the sport. Of course, Formula 1 sits at the heart of that, but there are numerous other types of racing that can inspire fans and invite people to observe, participate or simply tour for a bit. Drag racing, for example, already has a rich following in the region and BIC’s events regularly attract a crowd of literally thousands of new and regular spectators.
The overall tourist numbers in Bahrain have increased by 60% since the first Bahrain Grand Prix in 2004.
As BIC looks forward to the next decade of its involvement in motor racing, it also launched a major new development plan. The epicentre of the plan is the aim to attract major motorsport-related businesses to come and locate in Sakhir, which, according to their work so far, is probably going to be a smooth and easy transition.
BIC has earmarked a total of one million square metres of land, which it will dedicate to various business development projects. At the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix, it was announced that the company Bell Helmets will be relocating the global research and development as well as manufacturing operations to Bahrain’s circuit.
The aforementioned development plan also aims to attract other top motorsport-related businesses to BIC, so that it could build on its position as a great venue for racing and also become a hub for innovation and excellence for related businesses in the region. The BIC is already a business which attracts numerous companies and events beyond the top flight (both local, regional and international) and the commercial development is the next natural step for a circuit which is going to become a truly diversified business.
BIC is also focused on ensuring it maintains cutting edge racing facilities. The all-new lighting system that made its debut at the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix, and which gained rave reviews from Formula 1 pundits worldwide, will create a renewed buzz for night racing, attracting a new breed of enthusiasts. It’s exciting, it’s efficient – what more does a racetrack lighting need?
As part of that, BIC aims to grow national and international racing series. The FIA World Endurance Championship continues to prosper, as do the regional series, which showcase the best driving talent in the Middle East.
All of that will enable BIC to continue to expand its portfolio and cement its position as “The Home of Motorsport in the Middle East”.