The Bahrain International Circuit may have moved into second place in the league of lengthy Formula One circuits after adding a extra loop to its layout ahead of this weekend's season-opening grand prix, but the changes have yet to find any fans among the F1 fraternity.
The extra 0.6 miles include a tight and twisting section that was included in the original BIC complex to allow for endurance races with bigger grids than F1 has ever taken there, and adds around 20 seconds to the average lap time by diverting drivers away from turn four and returning them, six corners late, at the old turn five.
Even before the action had got underway in Sakhir, Red Bull's Mark Webber reflected on the additional section, claiming that it was 'nothing but tight corners - accelerate, brake, accelerate, brake...', while team-mate Sebastian Vettel admitted that he would rather have seen a 'couple of fast corners' added to the layout.
Once they had conducted a couple of practice sessions, the condemnation from the drivers got worse.
"The new part doesn't look really interesting," former Bahrain polewinner Robert Kubica, who had walked the section on Wednesday, commented, "It's a kind of a street circuit, it reminds me of Monte Carlo a bit. It's very slow, with a lot of bumps, and is quite tough for the tyres. It was quite dirty too, this morning it was quite slippery there. Afterwards it improved, but there is still quite a big delta shift between the grip of the new section and the old section."
"I think that the biggest difficulty is that you have a different level of grip," Vettel echoed, "If you look at the asphalt of the new circuit compared to the old track, it's quite different. That doesn't make life easy, and it's actually very slow, very bumpy, so I also prefer the old track."
Heikki Kovalainen and F1 rookie Lucas di Grassi - who both also sampled the old circuit in their GP2 Series days, admitted a preference for the old version of the layout.