The Bahrain International Circuit has today honoured the seven times world champion Michael Schumacher by renaming Turn 1 after him.
The German remains in a coma in hospital in France after a skiing accident at New Year, despite attempts to wake him.
Schumacher’s connections with the circuit extend to consultation on the design and also it was the scene of his comeback to F1 in 2010, with Mercedes, after three years of retirement.
It is likely to be the first of a series of gestures like this over the coming year, as the sport comes to terms with the terrible situation its most successful driver finds himself in. It means that millions of F1 fans around the world will be mindful of Schumacher as commentators mention his name at the start of the Grand Prix.
Bahrain celebrates its 10th anniversary this year as an F1 venue, although the 2011 race there was cancelled due to civil unrest.
Two of the three 2014 pre-season tests have taken place there and the final one concludes today. This year’s Grand Prix in April will be the first to be held under lights at night. THe lighting project has cost €13 million and involved 5,000 lights around the circuit.
Zayed Al Zayani, Chairman of the Bahrain International Circuit, said: “With the support of his family, it is a great privilege to be able to honour arguably the greatest racing driver in the history of F1 and someone who the people of Bahrain hold close to their hearts. From his first appearance at the BIC in 2004, he immediately became an inspiration for all those who love motorsport in the Kingdom and it is therefore natural for us to recognise him in this way.”
Sabine Kehm, Schumacher’s manager, said: “Michael’s family would like to thank the Bahrain International Circuit for this gesture, acknowledging Michael’s achievements in Formula One and interest in the BIC circuit design. We take it as a recognition for his passion for motorsport. I am convinced Michael will love the idea and feel very honoured about having a BIC corner named after him.”