31,000 F1 fans set record in Bahrain
Manama, April 8, 2014
A record 31,000 fans watched this year's Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, making it the biggest single day crowd in Bahrain International Circuit's (BIC) 10-year history.
They were part of 85,000 people who came through the gates during the three-day race weekend, well up on last year's attendance of 73,000, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
"The grandstand was sold out as were our corporate boxes, underlining our belief that the spectacle and attraction of the night race has brought a new generation of fans to F1," said BIC chairman Zayed Al Zayani.
"It has taken a huge effort from all involved in the construction and the preparation to get the circuit ready for our first night race and I would like to thank all those who have made that happen."
Al Zayani was also full of praise for race winner Lewis Hamilton, who narrowly beat his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg following a heated battle for the lead over the final 10 laps.
"We attracted a record crowd of 31,000, our highest ever attendance for a single day and I am delighted that the crowd was suitably rewarded with a phenomenal display of racing," he said.
Despite the Grand Prix race drawing to a close on Sunday the F1 action is not over yet this week at the BIC.
Today (April 8) and tomorrow the track will play host to two days of official FIA in-season testing featuring all 11 F1 teams. It follows on from a pair of successful four-day pre-season tests that were held at the BIC in February and March.
Bahrain's warm climate, long hours of daylight and minimal interruptions have made it a favourite F1 testing destination, as it allows the teams to maximise their time on the track and gain as much information about their cars as they can.
Bahrain hotels recorded an average occupancy rate of 87 per cent during this year's race compared with 71.6 per cent last year, a 15.4 per cent increase, said Tourism Under-Secretary Shaikh Khalid bin Humood Al Khalifa.
Rock legend Brian Johnson has praised officials for successfully hosting the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.
The lead singer of AC/DC was one of a host of celebrities who attended the event.
"You get to hear all this bad news about Bahrain, but when you get here it is so positive," he told the GDN from the Bahrain International Airport's VIP Terminal before he boarded a flight to London.
"People here are smiling always and are so positive and I was glad to be part of this race.
"I would also like to thank His Royal Highness (Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier) who is a gracious man."
The 66-year-old, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 along with the other members of AC/DC, is a keen car and racing enthusiast, and had the honour of interviewing the top three drivers on the winners' podium.
Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, who was a guest of the Crown Prince, agreed it was a "wonderful experience" to be part of Bahrain's first F1 night race.
"I would like to thank His Royal Highness for inviting me for this great event and he is a humble and down-to-earth person," he said.
"This is the first time I have watched a night race and it feels great to see the track lit beautifully.
"We were actually going from one end to another (VIP Tower) to see the competition in the end between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg."
The 41-year-old was sitting with his wife Anjali and close friends as they waited to board a flight to Mumbai.
He was seen off by Dadabhai Group chairman Mohammed Dadabhai and officials from the Crown Prince's Court.
Tendulkar retired from all forms of international cricket in November last year after an international career spanning 24 years, having played his 200th Test match.
British screenwriter and film director Guy Ritchie and English pianist, band leader and television personality Jools Holland were among a host of other celebrities that attended this year's race. - TradeArabia News Service