It took a little bit of creative thinking for Formula 1 to achieve a 17-race calendar for 2020. There have been visits to new and returning circuits, such as Mugello, Imola and Portimao, as well as back-to-back races held at the same venue, in the cases of Spielberg, Silverstone and Bahrain.
There will be something different about the Bahrain double-header, though. Different track layouts are to be used for each weekend, promising two very different races.
The Bahrain Grand Prix will take place on the usual 5.4-kilometre track that is highly-familiar to F1 fans, having been used for every race there except the 2010 edition, when a slightly longer configuration was used.
The Sakhir Grand Prix that follows a week later will be staged on the shorter outer circuit – an exciting unknown for everyone. It has even been likened by many to an oval circuit, including by renowned engineer Ross Brawn, who first raised the idea of using it in his role with Formula 1. Strictly speaking, it isn’t an oval at all. For one thing, it has both left and right turns: 11 of them in total. But it is a short lap: At 3.5 kilometres it is longer only than Monaco, and that’s by just 0.2 kilometres.
In terms of lap time it will be the shortest, with times expected to be under 60 seconds. And the nature of the circuit means many are hoping for a style of racing that’s similar to what might be seen on an American oval. Fast, frenetic, and hectic, with slipstreaming, tactics, and several changes of lead in other words.