Bahrain Formula-1 Grand Prix
The first Formula One Grand Prix in
Bahrain was held on April 4, 2004, at the Bahrain
International Circuit. The much-anticipated event was
sponsored by Gulf Air. The Bahrain International Circuit
track construction at Sakhir was started in 2002. None other
than the irrepressible German, Michael Schumacher, won the
first Bahrain Grand Prix. However, unlike in other Grand
Prix events, in Bahrain, the winners are not allowed to have
champagne at the podium and spray it as a victory
celebration. This is due to the strict Islamic norms
regarding alcohol. As an alternative, Waard, a non-alcoholic
drink made from rosewater is used for the celebration.
In the 2004 Bahrain Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher in his customary Ferrari held the pole position, followed by Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), Jenson Button (BAR-Honda), Jarno Trulli (Renault), Takurna Sato (BAR-Honda), and Fernando Alonso (Renault). Schumacher went on to win the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2004.
In April 2005, the Bahrain Grand Prix was the second time Bahrain conducted it. Fernando Alonso led the pole position, with Michael Schumacher immediately behind him. The air temperature was 40oC and the track temperature shot up to 56oC. It was one of the hottest Grand Prix events in racing history. In lap 12, Schumacher overshot the ninth turn and had to retire. His previous retirement was in 2001 German Grand Prix. Schumacher had participated in 59 Grand Prix events consecutively before this Bahrain Grand Prix. Finally, Alonso won the event by 13.4 seconds, with his Renault teammate Trulli coming second. This was the hundredth Grand Prix win for Renault team. Kimi Raikkonen and Ralf Schumacher claimed the third and fourth places. However, the celebrations were quite muted, following the death of Pope John Paul II in the previous evening.
The 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix was held on March 12 and was the first one in that year. Michael Schumacher held the pole position, with his team Felipe Massa behind him. Jenson Button in Honda, Fernando Alonso in Renault, Juan Pablo Montoya in McLaren-Mercedes, and Rubens Barrichello in Honda followed them at the start. After a keen tussle, Alonso won the Bahrain Grand Prix, with Schumacher forced to be content with the second place, just 1.2 seconds behind Alonso. Raikkonen took the third spot in the podium, while Button came fourth.
The Bahrain Grand Prix in 2007 was held between April 13 and 15. Michael Schumacher had retired at the end of 2006. Hence, Fernando Alonso was expected to have an easy time in the 2007 event. However, Felipe Massa stole the pole position in his Ferrari, with Lewis Hamilton and Alonso of McLarens behind him, along with Kimi Raikkonen in Ferrari in third pole position. The race was very interesting but the final results nearly followed the pole positions. Felipe Massa won the 2007 Bahrain Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton 2.36 seconds behind him. Kimi Raikkonen came third. However, Nick Heidfeld of BMW Saber overtook Alonso by a whisker to take fourth position. Alonso, champion in the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2005 and 2006, was able to finish only fifth in the 2007 event, despite strong expectations.