Bahrain has a “long-term commitment” to the Formula One series, stressed a top official.
Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) Commercial Director Sherif Al Mahdy also dismissed worries over whether or not a new contract had been signed.
Bahrain’s contract to host Formula One expires this year, but Al Mahdy refused to comment on rumors that a new 15-year deal was signed over the weekend.
He said, however, that he was confident about the future of the race in Bahrain.
“We have a long-term commitment with the Formula One,” he told the Gulf Digital News (GDN). “That’s how we justified switching it to a night race, and the expense of all the lights and so on.”
“I have no comment whether or not a contract has been renewed, but I can say it’s not about the contract. The commitment is there – you can [even]buy your tickets to the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix now for a 30 per cent discount,” Al Mahdy added.
He was speaking as the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix weekend kicked off over the weekend at the BIC in Sakhir.
The BIC switched the annual event to a night race in 2014 to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the Formula One in Bahrain.
“Last year was definitely the best experience [for me here]being a night race,” current Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton told GDN prior to the race over the weekend.
“You get to see how beautiful it is, it looks so stunning (with) the lights. Every night I’ve been driving past the [BIC] to a friend’s house and I get to see how spectacular it looks, it looks iconic,” he added.
The new lights were launched in February 2014, ahead of the race in April that year.
Officials told the GDN at the time that they had noticed that most of the sister karting track’s visitors had come during the evening, as the track was floodlit.
In the past, the main track had to be closed from May until September because of the heat, and the floodlights have enabled the circuit to be open year-round.
Hundreds of fans have also expressed their pleasure at the night race, and cases of heat exhaustion have reduced in the last two years as a result as well.