Bahrain F1 race watched by 28,000 fans

Sunday's controversial Grand Prix was third-best for attendance, says circuit chief
Bahrain F1 race watched by 28,000 fans
Red Bull Racings German driver Sebastian Vettel. (Getty Images)
By Andy Sambidge
Wed 25 Apr 2012 05:34 PM

Bahrain had its third-best Formula One year for spectator attendance at Sunday's controversial race, officials have said.

A total of 28,000 spectators watched the race, which was won by Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed Alzayani said in comments published by Bloomberg.

The top year for Bahrain’s Grand Prix was in 2008, when the race attracted 30,000 fans, Bloomberg said.

The lowest attendance was in 2006, when 22,000 people attended, Alzayani said in a telephone interview.

The race circuit has a capacity for 34,000 spectators.

Earlier this week, Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone said the Bahrain Grand Prix had a solid future.

Asked whether the race would stay on the calendar, the 81-year-old Briton told Reuters: "Absolutely. Forever. No problem."

The race at the Sakhir circuit passed without incident despite numerous protests across the Gulf kingdom.

Last year's grand prix was cancelled after a bloody crackdown on an anti-government uprising and Sunday's drew widespread condemnation from abroad and provoked rage among local opponents.

On Tuesday, STR Global data showed that Bahrain saw a significant rebound in its tourism industry in March with occupancy more than doubling compared to the same month last year.

Hotels in the Gulf kingdom's capital Manama reported a 112 percent rise in occupancy rates to 45 percent, according to latest figures released by STR Global.

Manama also saw a 14.6 percent increase in average daily rates (ADR) and a massive 143.1 percent growth in revenue per available room (RevPAR) to $97.96.

The figures are the first sign that the Gulf kingdom is recovering from the economic impact of unrest that began in early 2011 as part of the Arab Spring that hit the Middle East and North Africa region.

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