The Bahrain Grand Prix is a Formula One Championship race which first took place at the Bahrain International Circuit on 4 April 2004. The Bahrain Grand Prix, sponsored by Gulf Air, made history as the first Formula One Grand Prix to be held in the Middle East. Bahrain fought off fierce competition from elsewhere in the region to stage the race, with Egypt, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates all hoping for the prestige of hosting a Formula One Grand Prix.
The building of the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir was started in 2002 with high domestic interest about the project as it gave a future to the next generation of Bahraini racers. By the completion of the project, the circuit soon outshone the Kuwait Circuit and became the center of motor sport in the Arabian Gulf, as it held many other races such as drag races, GT races, Formula 3 races and the Australian V8 Supercar series.
The first race was in 2004 and it was won by German driver Michael Schumacher for Ferrari. Fernando Alonso won the second Bahrain Grand Prix for Renault in 2005, and then became the first repeat winner of the Middle Eastern race in 2006 (again for Renault), after a thrilling race-long battle with Michael Schumacher. In 2007 and 2008, Brazilian Felipe Massa won the race for Ferrari. 2009 saw Jenson Button win for Brawn GP. Alonso became the first three-time winner after his 2010 triumph.
In the shadow of reports of ongoing use of excessive force by authorities and torture in detention. Some anti-government protesters have called for a cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix 2012. One unnamed team principal was quoted in Britain's The Guardian newspaper 9th of April 2012 said that all the teams hoped the FIA would call off the race. He added "I feel very uncomfortable about going to Bahrain. If I'm brutally frank, the only way they can pull this race off without incident is to have a complete military lockdown there. And I think that would be unacceptable, both for F1 and for Bahrain. But I don't see any other way they can do it."