The countdown has begun to the start of the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship. Around the world 400 million viewers are preparing for the drama and excitement, the speed and colour of the first race of the year - and, for the first time in...
The countdown has begun to the start of the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship. Around the world 400 million viewers are preparing for the drama and excitement, the speed and colour of the first race of the year - and, for the first time in the championship's history, that race will be staged in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
The honour of opening the 2006 season is yet another distinction awarded to the 'desert Grand Prix'. In just three years the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix has become established as one of the most eagerly-anticipated events of the year for the fans, competitors and organisers alike.
The spectacular Bahrain International Circuit, combined with the friendliness and hospitality of the Bahraini people and the efficiency of the organisation meant that in 2004, after the inaugural Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, the organisers at Bahrain International Circuit were honoured with the FIA Race Promoters' Trophy for the best Grand Prix of the year.
It was in 2002 that the vision of His Highness the Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, to hold a round of the World Championship, became a reality and the construction of Bahrain International Circuit began.
On April 4 2004 the inaugural Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix was staged, and the eyes of the world saw Bahrain resplendent as Formula One's new home in the Middle East when Michael Schumacher's Ferrari took a resounding victory on his way to a record seventh world championship title.
Moreover the race delivered His Highness the Crown Prince's vision to use the Grand Prix as a catalyst to generate trade, tourism and awareness, to harness the minds of the world's opinion leaders and formers and bring multi-million dollar businesses to Bahrain.
The 2005 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix again produced a majestic performance from the man destined to take the world championship title at the end of the year: Renault's young lion Fernando Alonso. Worldwide the enthusiasm for the Bahrain Grand Prix grew still further and the event was used to showcase the economic development taking place throughout the Kingdom.
Now in 2006 the countdown is underway for the biggest and best Bahrain Grand Prix so far, an event befitting the honour of starting the new season, in a year when expectations for an all- action FIA Formula One World Championship are at an all-time high.
What's New for 2006 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix?
New Technical Rules: The high-pitched wail of the 3.0-litre Formula One V10 engines will be replaced in 2006 with an exciting new sound as the 2006 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix ushers in the era of 2.4-litre V8 engines.
Qualifying: The single lap qualifying system of recent years has given way to a three- round elimination contest, with the fastest 10 cars going head-to-head for position at the top of the starting order.
Tyres: In 2005 the teams were only allowed to use one set of dry weather tyres for both qualifying and the race. The 2006 season sees the reintroduction of tyre changes and the revival of this exciting aspect of the teams' race strategy.
Teams: Three new teams will travel to Bahrain for their Grand Prix debut - BMW Sauber F1, Scuderia Toro Rosso and the all-new Super Aguri F1, together with the renamed Honda Racing F1 team, bringing the total number of teams in the 2006 world championship to 11.
Drivers: A wealth of new talent has emerged through the junior ranks to reach the sport's pinnacle including Germany's 2005 GP2 champion Nico Rosberg at Williams and American young gun Scott Speed at Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Pro-Celebrity Race: Joining the support race schedule for the 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix will be a dazzling array of names from the world of sport and entertainment racing identical Holden V8 Supercars alongside some of the biggest names in world motor sport.
Thursday Pit Walk: 3-day pass holders will be allowed to walk down the Formula One Pit Lane on Thursday 9 March to see the team preparations.
Porsche Michelin SuperCup Night Race: The spectacular Porsche GT3 Cup cars will put on a 30-minute race after dusk on Friday March 10, using the 2.55km Inner Circuit with viewing available from the Oasis Grandstand.
Vending Area Attractions: Throughout the Grand Prix weekend the vending area behind the Main Grandstand will throng with cultural and sporting activities and the FIA-led Think driver safety campaign as well as daily autograph sessions on the BIC Dhow for Formula One and support race drivers.
Starting Grid Procedures: Half an hour before the start of the 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix a spectacular parade led by a Military Marching Band with flag bearers, Arabic dancers and three floats representing traditional Bahraini life: The Dhow, The Pearl and The Souq.
Under the patronage of the Bahrain Economic Development Board a stunning array of events will support the 2006 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix under the title 'Yalla Bahrain!' Yalla Bahrain is a cry of encouragement that rings out whenever the Kingdom of Bahrain takes its place on the world's sporting stage.
There can, therefore, be no more fitting a title for the dazzling array of events that are planned throughout the month-long build-up to the 2006 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix including:
Motorsport Art Exhibition: the Bahrain National Museum sees a wealth of artwork from international and Bahraini artists and contributions from the local community. After a gala opening on February 13 the exhibition will be open to the public until March 13.
Seef Mall Autograph Session: Bringing Formula One closer to the Bahraini people, an autograph session with Honda Racing driver Jenson Button will take place in the Seef Mall on Valentine's Day, February 14.
Jump Bahrain: Parkour or free-running is one of the latest cultural phenomena, and an expert team will use nothing but their skill and dexterity to cross the landmarks of Bahrain's capital city Manama and the Bahrain International Circuit during the Grand Prix weekend.
F1 Welcome Party: A sumptuous welcome to the Formula One community will be hosted at Bahrain International Circuit on Friday 10 March by His Highness the Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
Bahraini Spectacular: On Saturday March 11 a spectacular street parade will make its way through central Manama towards a purpose-built stadium beside the Shaikh Salman Bridge. Here the evening's entertainment will include world-renowned musicians and a spectacular multimedia presentation will culminate in a firework extravaganza to herald the coming race.