F1 2020: Extra Bahrain race to use alternate track

Four more grands prix have been added to the disrupted 2020 Formula 1 calendar, taking the season total to 17 races. The new events include a pair of races at Sakhir in Bahrain, with one taking place on an all-new ‘high-speed’ track layout.

The Bahrain Grand Prix will take place on 29 November on the Bahrain International Circuit’s usual 3.3-mile grand prix layout. But F1 bosses have now confirmed the Sakhir Grand Prix on 6 December will take place on the venue’s 2.2-mile outer track.

The new circuit features just 10 corners and three long straights, which should make for a substantially different race from the far twistier international loop. Notably, the circuit will be the second shortest used by F1, which means the race will run for 87 laps. F1 bosses are predicting qualifying lap times of around 55sec, with race lap times of around 60sec.

Before the Bahrain double-header, the sport will return to Istanbul Park in Turkey – a challenging, fast circuit popular with fans and drivers – for the first time since 2011, when it dropped off the calendar after seven years due to financial reasons.

The season will then finish at the Yas Marina track in Abu Dhabi, as is now traditional, but on the much later date of 13 December.

This is the latest and almost certainly final batch of races to be added to the calendar, after the Nürburgring, Imola and Portimão were included last month.

F1 has confirmed that it won’t be able to visit the Shanghai International Circuit for the Chinese Grand Prix, despite attempts to organise this in recent months. It was also rumoured in recent weeks that Jerez in Spain could be added to the calendar, but it appears that this won’t be the case.

The 2020 F1 season now looks to be finalised with 17 races, down from the 22 planned before the pandemic but enough to fulfil F1’s contractual obligations for the championship to be valid.