The Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix got underway in a burst of colour with some artistic flourishes added to one of the world's already more unique venues.

Around the Bahrain International Circuit, stunning new decorations have been incorporated into the run-off areas, underlining the Arabic influences of the fourth round of the 2009 season with nearly 15,000 square metres of previously featureless tarmac now adorned with colourful Arabic calligraphy and artwork.

"Now that we are at the start of our sixth grand prix in five years, the race is well and truly established as part of the Formula One world," circuit CEO Martin Whitaker explained, "As a celebration of Bahrain's place on the international sporting map, we're delighted to have introduced this new way of representing the kingdom visually as a truly eye-catching addition to our grand prix."

Keeping the colours and textures flying, another innovative new presentation - the 'Field of Flags' - sees some 1600 individual three-metre tall flags, 'planted in an area of desert between turns four and five giving the impression of a traditional sporting tournament while, from overhead, the 'Field' becomes a giant animated Bahraini national flag.