Bahrain sees bright future for night race

Mon Apr 7, 2014 12:57am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

MANAMA (Reuters) - Bahrain believes its Formula One circuit has a bright future after the country's first floodlit grand prix turned out a thriller on Sunday.

Sakhir Circuit chairman Zayed Alzayani told Reuters the decision to turn the 10th anniversary event into a night race was a statement of intent for the future of motorsport in the Gulf kingdom.

"There's more to come," he said in an interview at the Sakhir desert circuit.

"We want to branch out. Not just the racing aspects of motorsports but the other stuff that goes around it. The development of teams, research and manufacturing relevant to the motorsport industry.

"A racing school, to develop talent. The missing pieces of the puzzle to make motorsport happen."

Another piece of that jigsaw was fitted into place on Sunday with the announcement that Bell Racing Helmets would be relocating its global research and development and manufacturing operations to a facility within the circuit grounds from 2015.

Bahrain is an important stakeholder in Formula One, with state investment fund Mumtalakat owning the circuit as well as half of the McLaren team.

The country also has considerable influence within the governing International Automobile Federation, with FIA president Jean Todt making Sunday's race the first he has attended this season.   Continued...

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives during the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) in Sakhir, south of Manama April 6, 2014. REUTERS/Caren Firouz