Formula 1 will use Bahrain’s fast outer track for the Sakhir Grand Prix on December 6, giving drivers a fresh challenge for the second race at the circuit.
The fastest qualifying lap times are expected to be under 55 seconds, as the slower inner section of the circuit is bypassed with a series of mainly high-speed corners.
Ross Brawn, F1’s managing director of motor sport, has described the layout as a “almost oval track”, although one that retains the key braking zone of Turn Four that is an overtaking hotspot.
“We assessed a number of options for the alternative circuit layout and concluded the outer circuit will provide the best alternative and will provide a new challenge for all the teams and entertain all our fans with high speeds and fast lap times,” said Brawn.
The outer circuit has never been used for international racing, but does hold an FIA Grade 1 licence, making it eligible to host a grand prix.
At 2.2 miles long, it will be the shortest circuit raced this season. It’s more than a mile shorter than the standard Grand Prix Circuit, so the full race distance will be set at 87 laps.
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A typical racing lap will take around a minute, with qualifying times five seconds faster, according to F1’s simulations.
The average lap speed of 144mph compares with 137.7mph for the more familiar layout. Last year, Charles Leclerc’s average speed on his pole lap was 162.9mph.
Formula 1 will travel to the track at the end of the November, for the Bahrain Grand Prix at the GP Circuit on 27 November, followed a weekend later by the Outer Loop race. The season finale in Abu Dhabi is scheduled for 13 December.