BAHRAIN FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX
Below you will find reviews, ratings, and tips on the circuit from other race fans.
Booked tickets and arrived no problem, received courtesy email that they were on their way, nice touch. We had tickets for turn 1, good view of the track, only one big screen though.
Bahrain has Dinars as currency, exchange rate is £2 to 1 dinar, exchanged in UK at post office, had to order as not a standard currency. Exchange rate in Heathrow was terrible, in Bahrain is was a little worse that UK BUT they do a buy back with same exchange rate with no commission. Takes a bit of getting used to the prices as they look good then you realise you have to double the price to convert to GBP.
Looked on websites and it says in Bahrain you need a visa, can obtain online or visa on arrival, costing £50. BUT as you are a F1 fan you get a free visa on arrival, 4 special lanes in arrivals with big Red placards above the lanes. The visa cost is included in the ticket price. Have the tickets with you in hand luggage if you can't show them you will have to buy a visa.
Also included in the ticket price is the cost of the shuttle buses, they start running from Airport to hotels from the Monday before the race. After race they run from hotels to Airport up until Monday after the race. If you want to book a taxi in airport Manama is in zones, to zone A where we stayed 7 Dinar.
We were advised to book hotel in Juffair, good area for expats and has street called American Alley, about 200 yds of shops, restaurants and take aways. End of the street is Mega Market, first floor is Tesco, anything you forgot is in here.
Also has Juffair mall, 4 floors of shopping with food court and games zone of fifth floor.
Hotels that have shuttle buses: RAMEE GRAND, GULF HOTEL, DIPLOMAT RADISON, RITZ CARLTON, INTERCONTINENTAL REGENCY, SOFITEL HOTEL, FOUR SEASONS HOTEL, DOWNTOWN ROTANA, RAMADA HOTEL, K HOTEL, BESTWESTERN, plus OLIVE.
You don't need to stay in one of these hotels to use shuttle buses, you can book a hotel close by and at shuttle bus hotel show them your track ticket or voucher. The buses are well organised, at every hotel is someone organising them, they call the other hotels and then route the buses to fill them as much as they can.
After race head to shuttle bus park, many people there waiting, tell them your hotel and they will direct you to correct bus, ours was K Hotel and filled quickly and pulled out with a shuttle bus behind us which took our slot and started filling up again. Very efficient, after race the roads are made one way so traffic moves from track at a decent rate.
Airport style security at all entrance gates, all bags scanned, no food or drinks allowed, inside there are many catering stalls. Friday we queued for 20 minutes and got served under cooked burgers from next to BIC building. We then walked past the main grandstand where there are 16 food, drink, beverage outlets, foods 3.5 Dinar, so £7.00 and as bit overpriced but everything here is expensive. Team merchandise expensive too, old hats for Brawn and Caterham were £20.00, major team baseball caps £40.
Alcohol is not available in supermarkets or restaurants, there are several bars close by, Rockys Cafe be careful as tried to charge me £6.00 for a can of coke. Bottles of Bud £7.00, draft Bud £9.00 a pint, cheapest beer we found was Henrys Bar just outside Juffair at £7.00 a pint and most expensive was K Hotel at £12.00 a pint. If you like a drink buy from Heathrow duty free.
Weather is hot but it did rain three times while we were there.
Overall with ticket prices for Grandstand, cheap flights from Heathrow, sensible priced hotels and free shuttle buses which make it a cheaper alternative to other F1 Weekends.
Essentially a classy and well managed event.
I sense there are 2 (main) areas that could be improved upon:
1. Shuttle Bus Service
I visited the track several times Saturday & Sunday. My 1st visit was by way of the advertised 'shuttle bus service'. With a Gold Card in my possession I assumed a professional if not luxurious transportation option was in the offing. I could not have been more wrong. The old (& not very clean) bus stopped at 3 other hotels after picking me up. Then drive straight past the ticket collection area to the track (I remonstrated to the driver to stop). I then waited a further 25 minutes to go back to the ticket collection area. There, the staff were more attached to their personal iPhones than the arriving customers. After this delayed service I awaited another 20 minutes for transport back to the track. Upon arrival I asked the driver as to where I should go re:Paddock Club - clueless. Since there was no signage in this area I wondered around..,After asking a few more 'officials' I found the Club. Total time - a little over 2 wasted hours.
The return journey: since I could not find a cab in the immediate area, I went back to the bus assembly area. I enquired about a bus back to my hotel, the 4 Seasons. I was told, by 3 different individuals, that it would be in 'about 1 hour'. I stated clearly that bus s are supposed to depart every 30 minutes. Yes, but... I understood that the bus organizers wanted the buses to fill up before departing, hence the schedule now was not the issue, but bus capacity. No one was willing to address the issue, even this white-shirted 'BahrainGP' officials at the bus assembly point. After an uncomfortable wait in the sun, a bus departed, went straight past my hotel, and dropped people off an 3 other inner city hotels. Total (wasted) time, 2 & half hours.
it needs to be clearly written that the buses go to several hotels.
the order of hotel pick-up/drop off needs to be defined.
buses need to be clean & to operate according to a clear schedule.
It goes without saying that all further visits to/from the track was by way of a hotel-arranged private limo.
2. Smoking area at least the facility:
I understand the whole health issue, as well as the safety matter.
However, many people were smoking, a fact.
Would it to too much to ask that such paying clients receive an appropriate area in which to do so, instead of being shunted to & fro from here and there, or being bundled into a small verandah area near the Oaddock Club steps?
Again, I focus on the 2 'annoying' matters, otherwise it was thoroughly enjoyable.