Why Is the 2024 Bahrain GP on an Unusual Saturday Night?

Published 02/13/2024, 4:41 AM EST

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As fans prepare for a new season of tyre-screeching madness, Formula One teams are showcasing their livery. With just a few more cars left to be revealed, it’s almost time to rush the circuits. The first two races on the calendar are the Bahrain and the Saudi Arabian Grands Prix. But the beginning of the 2024 season will be a little different. Why is that the case though?

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Everyone knows that on race weekends, Saturdays are qualifying and Sundays are race day. But in the first two races, fans will be heading to the circuit on Saturdays for the race.

Bahrain GP set for a Saturday race

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On March 10th, the month of Ramadan begins. The Saudi Arabian GP Sunday coincided with the start of Ramadan. Hence, the FIA decided to host the races one day early in Saudi Arabia. The race that is set to take place at Jeddah Corniche Circuit will take place on the 9th (Saturday), so the race will be completed before the month of fasting. Consequently, because of the rules of Formula 1, each race needs 7 days between them, which is why the Bahrain GP also had to be rescheduled to the 2nd, which is also a Saturday.

via Reuters

The FIA made these arrangements to make sure the auspicious month can be carried out without any obstructions. This has led to many fans being confused as to when the practice and qualifying races will take place. And those will begin on Thursday for the 2 races in the Middle East.

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This means the practice run will take place on February 29 at the Sakhir circuit followed by the qualifying on March 1. Although this is only done to make sure the races don’t clash with the holy month for Muslims, the calendar will return to its usual Sunday Raceday schedule, starting the Australian Grand Prix on March 24. However, this is not the first time the calendar has been shifted around for a Saturday race.

Here are all the other times that Formula 1 didn’t have Sunday as race day

While this might seem like an unusual occurrence, the first race day to take place on a Saturday dates back to May 13, 1950. During the inaugural World Champion Grand Prix held at Silverstone, the first F1 race on Saturday, Giuseppe ‘Nino’ Farina took home the prize. There are a total of 75 instances in F1 history when the race was held on Saturday instead of the customary Sunday.

via Reuters

Although Sunday Racedays are a norm now, back in the 1980s the British GP was often held on a Saturday. The 1969 race coincided with the Apollo 11 moon landing. The last time fans had to head to the circuits to watch a race on a Saturday was during the late-night Las Vegas GP. Before the Las Vegas GP, Formula 1 had not seen a race day on a Saturday since the 1985 South African GP.

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Over the years, there have been changes in the calendar and 2024 will be another example of the same. With the FIA trying to comply more with the needs of the countries with the tracks, the return of F1 after COVID has been sensational, to say the least.

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With the way recent trends are going, do you think Saturday races will be normalized in the future? Let us know in the comments below.

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Written by:

Viren Mirpuri

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Viren Mirpuri is an F1 Writer at EssentiallySports. With a Degree in Mass Media and a Specialization in Journalism, Viren is known for his speedy race day coverage outside of discussing the engine technicalities. Whether he's dissecting the latest technical innovations or unraveling the drama on and off the track, he ensures that his readers stay engaged and informed.
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Edited by:

Akash Pandhare

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