Although no actual changes are taking place to the circuit itself, the Grand Prix will now utilise the endurance version of the track as opposed to its original Grand Prix layout – adding an extra 0.8km to the length of a lap for the Formula 1 cars.
The endurance circuit, which measures 6.3km and has 24 corners, should technically reduce the number of race laps from 57 to around 48 or 49 to make the race up to the required 190 mile distance.
Whereas the old Formula 1 layout turns veers to the right at turn six, the longer version continues to off to the left, leading to series of slow speed corners before rejoining the original Grand Prix circuit to finish the lap – this will make the middle sector about on-minute long in the current cars. It also makes Sakhir the second longest circuit on the calendar, with only Spa-Francorchamps having a higher round distance.
Interestingly, with the rules stipulating that the cars cannot refuel mid-race next season, the extra distance and additional slow to medium speed turns may put extra pressure on the drivers to not use up too much fuel in the race – those that run higher revs on these added sections, may find themselves in difficulty near the end of a Grand Prix.
On a separate note, I did not realise until this evening that the Sakhir circuit also has a six turn oval – if you look in between the start/finish straight and the back straight (from the endurance layout), these sections are linked by long turns at either end making what is a 1.25 mile oval. It also contains a drag strip and according to some sources, at least one palm tree. So, there you go.