“Yellow. Yellow ground. Yellow buildings. Yellow sky. That’s Bahrain. Everything coloured by sand blown by desert winds.
“So they did the place a favour when they made it a night race. The monochrome outside the track turns black but floodlights and spotlit fountains give the Sakhir circuit a dimension it never had when the race was held in the bleaching mid-afternoon sun.
“Outside the track, the political troubles that led to the cancellation of the 2011 event have been subdued, but the undercurrent of tension remains.
“The circuit itself? Point-and-squirt, long straights, with few demanding corners, situated near an oil field and an airbase a half-hour drive or so south of the capital Manama on this tiny, troubled Gulf island.
“The paddock, festooned in palm trees draped in fairy lights, feels like an oasis. The fantasy works on television. But the realities outside are still there. Out of sight, but not out of mind.”