Rahul from India and Andi from Germany, who travelled to the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, share their experience and tips for fellow F1 fans.
Andi wrote the text below with inputs from Rahul. All images © Andi & Rahul.
Traveling to Bahrain
Rahul flew from New Delhi to Bahrain via Gulf Air and I flew from Frankfurt with the same airline. During race weekend, Bahrain offers a free “F1 Visa,” which can be applied for in advance or obtained on arrival. There are additional lines for F1 staff and fans at the customs arrival hall, guaranteeing fast entry. The process of leaving the plane, getting through customs and entering the arrival hall took about 10 minutes.
After the customs desk, I was immediately greeted by a staff member from the circuit, who pointed me in the direction of the free shuttle bus to my hotel – the same shuttles which also run to the circuit on race weekend – and also waited for me while I purchased a local SIM card (100gb for $30 USD). Speaking as a fan who attends a lot of races around the world, this personal treatment was highly unusual but more than welcome. They really do look after the fans in Bahrain!
Gulf Air is the national airline of Bahrain and a good choice for fans attending the race. I was able to book a special package for the weekend that included flights and a hotel room for 780 EUR. Booking separately, this would have cost around 1200 EUR. Gulf Air also offers packages including race tickets, but these were not available until a few weeks before the race, and I was worried about missing out on tickets. These packages could definitely offer additional savings, however.
Rahul stayed in the Oyo SeaShell Hotel, a very reasonable place to stay in Adliya, which was within walking distance of the “F1 Fan Zone” and a little further to Gulf Hotel, where we took the shuttles to the track on the first day. The Oyo SeaShell Hotel is a good option if you are on a budget and don’t mind staying in a no-frills place. There was lots of other F1 fans staying there
I stayed at The K Hotel, which is on the official shuttle bus route. All of the hotels served by the free F1 shuttles have personnel from the circuit waiting in the lobby, ready to answer your questions and help with any issues. The K Hotel was mainly booked by team members from the support races (F2 etc), as well entertainment staff from the circuit. It is important to know, that it is not necessary to stay in one of the bus stops hotels to take the shuttles, you can easily go there and take the bus or ask for advice, even if you are not a guest. We actually had a really good experience at the Gulf Hotel on the first day. Even though we were not guests there, we were treated like we were; they let us use the WiFi and even gave us a drink.
Getting to Bahrain International Circuit (BIC)
We took the free shuttle bus on all the three days. On Friday, the driver was not sure where to park and kept driving around the lot for 10 minutes, which was both funny and irritating at the same time. You don’t need to be staying in the hotels to use the bus shuttle, as mentioned in the Bahrain Grand Prix Travel Guide from F1Destinations. Most buses were small city buses with a capacity of max 25 people so they there able to get through the traffic well and reach the track quickly. Despite the odd traffic jam, we never took longer than 30 minutes either way.
Turn 1 Grandstand
I had tickets for Turn 1 grandstand on sector K, which marks approximately the breaking point of the cars, and had two large screens directly in front. The awesome view, the action of the overtakes and the parks flying offered an excellent experience. Despite visiting around 40 Formula 1 races, I’m still blown away by the speed and deceleration of the cars during braking. I also checked out Sector R, near the end of the Turn 1 Grandstand. This sector offers a better view up to turn 4 and also a little bit into Turns 9 & 10, but is further from the screens and overtaking action.
Beyon Grandstand (Batelco)
Renamed as the Beyon Grandstand in 2022, the grandstand that used to be known as Batelco offers some of the best seats at the circuit, in Rahul’s opinion. You can see the cars on the track from Turn 6-10. It was also directly above the F2 pits, giving Rahul the chance to take lots of great photos of the cars. The C1 sector of the Beyon Grandstand has a big screen in front, the other sectors didn’t have such a good view of the screen.
Worth remembering if you are buying tickets for this grandstand. Beyon also gives you access to the ‘inner track,’ meaning you can see the entrance to the F1 Paddock and the F1 Paddock Club. If you are patient and lucky, you can see all the drivers, team members and media when they are arriving or departing the circuit. You can also get close to the F1 cars at the exit of the pits. The one downside of Beyon is that there is a drag strip right in front of the stand, which means you are not as close to the action as in other grandstands.
One of the best things about the race was the number of entertainment options for parents. There was also a good selection of restaurants available at different price points. There are just two water refilling spots, on both ends of the Main Grandstand. These had long queues, so the alternative was to buy water if you didn’t want to line up for 20 minutes each times. The washrooms were always clean, even on Sunday when there was much heavier footfall.
Every grandstand offers points to buy food and non-alcoholic drinks. There were two points where you could buy alcohol. One was a big tent with AC, which was like a big beer garden, the other was behind the Turn 1 grandstand. This one was popular with Dutch fans celebrated Max Verstappen’s win! Beer was about 12 EUR, water 2,50 EUR, Starbucks coffee for 4 EUR and sandwiches (tuna, chicken, cheese) for 6 EUR.
There were many highlights, but it’s worth noting that this is an excellent race for families with children to attend. They had a large bouncy castle, about 50m long and 15m wide, as well as a playground for smaller kids, a stage with musical shows and even a haunted house! In between, there was lots of shaded areas with hammocks and carpets for laying down. A lot of roaming entertainment groups performed artistic shows or played live music. There were some trackside concerts, but we were more interested in seeing the city, so we didn’t wait around for them. We’d be interested to hear from other fans what they were like!
Leaving the Circuit
We were advised by some other fans to hurry for the shuttle buses back to the city, as if you don’t go early, you can be waiting for up to two hears. Taxis and ride sharing were available, but prices were high to the increased demand.
Away from the track, we really enjoyed checking out the Juffair Sea Side, which is a chilled out area next to the seaside that was great for sampling the food trucks. It’s also walkable from The K Hotel, where I was staying. We had a great meal at El Padrino’s.
It was really hot during the day, and the asphalt makes it worse, so bring a cap and some sunscreen. Don’t forget to stay hydrated when the sun is out. After the sun goes down, it gets quite cool – some people may want to bring a long-sleeve jumper for the night sessions.
Overall, it was an amazing race week for us. It was only Rahul’s third F1 race weekend (after Malaysia in 2016 and Singapore in 2017). He said it compared really well to the other races he has attended, and especially liked the driver interviews on the main stage and the chance to meet the drivers in the ‘inner track’. We would both recommend attending this race if you are on a budget, want to see good on-track action and get selfies with the drivers. It’s also pretty well connected for fans in both Europe and Asia.