Manama: A new permanent floodlighting system has been launched at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC), opening the way for the Middle East’s first Formula One night race to be held in Bahrain in April.
The lights, which were officially activated by Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa in a ceremony on Thursday evening as part of ongoing F1 pre-season testing, were first unveiled in November 2013 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the sport in Bahrain.
The system, the most dramatic upgrade in the BIC’s decade-long history, consists of 495 lightposts positioned around the track and is powerful enough to turn night into day, enabling the night race to be filmed in high definition. The posts stand between 10 and 45 metres high, holding 4,500 lights and require 500 kilometres of cabling.
The system can also be rearranged to accommodate a variety of international, regional and national racing formats at the BIC, while spectator areas have also been improved.
The 2014 Bahrain race, scheduled for April 6, will start at 6pm local time (7pm UAE) and will be held entirely in floodlit conditions. Qualifying will be held at the same time on April 5.
The Sakhir circuit will become the third venue to hold all or part of a grand prix in darkness. Singapore has hosted a night race since 2008, while Abu Dhabi has staged a race starting at twilight since 2009.
Prince Salman, also Bahrain’s First Deputy Prime Minister, said the system was a significant upgrade for the BIC and demonstrated the kingdom’s commitment to promoting motorsport in the Middle East. He added that motorsport remained an important contributor to the kingdom’s economy.
The BIC, initiated by Crown Prince Salman, was opened in 2004 and the first Bahrain Grand Prix took place on April 4 that year. It was the first F1 race to be held in the Middle East.