Bahrain says alternative ‘almost oval’ layout is ‘doable’

Bahrain Grand Prix organisers are open to hosting a second race on the venue’s outer circuit as suggested by F1 director of motorsport Ross Brawn.

To boost the 2020 calendar in light of the growing number of cancellations, Brawn says Bahrain was asked to consider staging a double-header, with a second race run on Sakhir’s alternative outer layout that Brawn described as “almost oval”.

But Brawn’s suggestion was news to Bahrain’s promoters.

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“We were surprised as well by Ross’s comments,” Bahrain International Circuit CEO Sheikh Salman bin Isa al-Khalifa told Motorsport.com.

“They did say a while ago would you 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.”

Bahrain’s outer configuration, comprised mainly of three straights linked by a section of fast curves, has never been used for a race, although F1 raced on a portion of the configuration in 2010.

“We’ve never used it for a race,” explaineds Sheikh Salman. “It was mainly designed so that you can run the inner track and the outer track at the same time.

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

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“What we’ve done in the past is use it for corporate events – especially Rolls Royce events where they didn’t want hard braking and corners.”

BIC chief operating officer Fayez Ramzy, who also sits on the FIA’s circuit commission, says certification for running an F1 Grand Prix on the alternative layout was in order.

“As far as homologation and safety are concerned, I’ve walked that circuit with Charlie Whiting,” said Ramzy. “He’s the one who homologated it back then.

“So from the FIA circuit commission’s point of view it’s pretty much the endurance circuit minus a bit, with a small straight connecting it.

“Marshalling wise, sporting wise, operationally, timing loops, it’s ready to go.”

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