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Should F1 use the Outer Circuit if Bahrain becomes season opener?

Should F1 use the Outer Circuit if Bahrain becomes season opener?

F1 News

Should F1 use the Outer Circuit if Bahrain becomes season opener?

Should F1 use the Outer Circuit if Bahrain becomes season opener?

With the news the Australian Grand Prix is likely to be at-best postponed due to the newest wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bahrain looks set to become the de-facto season opener.

Restrictions have been tightened by Australian authorities rendering the prospect of a race on March 21 near-impossible due to the two-week quarantine period upon arrival, with a new date later in the year being assessed.

With Bahrain next in line to kick-off the new campaign, should there be a last-minute change-of-heart from the organisers to switch the race to the Outer Circuit from the traditional International Circuit?

After all, it produced one of the races of last season on its debut as the second part of a double-header in Bahrain. Here is why it should - and should not - happen.

Qualifying spectacle

The 'standard' circuit we are all accustomed to is a technical one, despite the 'point-and-squirt' nature of sector one. Fast sweepers open up the middle-sector before drivers have to time their braking perfectly for undulating and meandering zones.

The lap is as much of a challenge as the physically demanding classic beasts of Europe due to the technicalities. The Outer Circuit, however, despite the much simpler layout, has its own charms.

Firstly, there is the bumpy entry into the mid-lap chicane that caught so many out last year. The track limit violations on the exit of turn eight scuppered plenty of laps.

But the sheer number of attempts a driver had within the qualifying sessions to get a lap right was exhilarating. Seeing more than two flying laps per driver is surely something fans want to experience again.


There is nothing against the International Circuit here either. One of the best races in modern times took place when Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg fought in the 'duel in the desert' in 2014.

With overtaking opportunities at turns one, four, five, eight, nine and eleven, there is never a shortage of action.

The Outer Circuit, though, delivered almost non-stop incredible racing throughout the field. Eventual winner, Sergio Perez, was last on the opening lap after contact but was able to mix pit strategy with plenty of overtaking into turn four to fight back.

Plenty of drivers also demonstrated the tricky chicane could be used as an overtaking manoeuvre, none more so than George Russell when scything his way past then Mercedes team-mate for the weekend Valtteri Bottas.

The question is though, would the excitement of that race be replicated if another was held?

Or just hold both?

Any decision to postpone the race at Albert Park - as appears increasingly likely - will be a disappointing but ultimately necessary measure.

With talks ongoing between F1 and the race organisers with a view to an alternative date, at present, a calendar reshuffle is required to accommodate the Australian GP within the Asian flyaways towards the conclusion of the season.

With the Bahraini race originally penned to immediately follow the event in Melbourne, is there now a prospect of running another double-header at Sakhir?

The answer, for now, is no, with the potential re-slating of the Australian race meaning an additional grand prix would stretch the calendar to 24 races and an almost certain increase to the two already-planned triple-headers for the year after the August break.

That is almost completely infeasible due to the impact on team personnel, especially after seeing how difficult last season was to complete in such difficult times.

The fact is the Outer Circuit was a good experiment, produced exciting racing and was a huge success overall.

But as much as we would love to see a repeat, it is hard to find a reason to drop the traditional circuit to make room for the alternative layout.

May we see a re-appearance in the future though? Stranger things have happened.

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