Formula One has finally fleshed out its revamped 2020 schedule with the addition of races at Istanbul and Abu Dhabi with two events at Bahrain. The second race at Bahrain, known as the Sakhir Grand Prix, will be staged on the circuit’s outer loop layout—which could see the series posting laps under 60 seconds.
While Formula E had previously been the only series so far to run a different layout at a track due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the addition of the outer Bahrain circuit will become the next alternative layout to be used.
Essentially, the outer loop perfectly mimics the Bahrain Grand Prix circuit up to turn four, at which point the track bypasses the central portion of the circuit and connects back at what would normally be turn 13 via a long series of sweeping turns. Anticipate this track being a quick one similar to Monza with its lack of tight corners.
There’s also a longer version of the Bahrain track that had been used in 2010, but it wasn’t a hit with anyone, either drivers or fans.
This will be the first time that the outer loop will be used for an international racing event, which has only previously been used for club racing or corporate events.
The shorter, faster track sees F1 anticipating the quickest lap times ever set, with simulations clocking in at around 55 seconds. The current record for the quickest F1 lap time during a race weekend was set by Niki Lauda at Dijon in 1974, where the Austrian driver clocked a lap of 58.79 seconds.
F1's managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn has said that the whole purpose of this track layout is to challenge drivers and teams, saying, “We assessed a number of options for the alternative circuit layout and concluded the outer circuit will provide the best alternative and will provide a new challenge for all the teams and entertain all our fans with high speeds and fast lap times.”
The Sakhir Grand Prix will take place on December 6, 2020.