Miguel A. HerguedasSpecial Envoy Sakhir

Special Envoy Sakhir

Updated Saturday, March 2, 2024-01:01

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The preview of the Bahrain GP qualifying session was enlivened on Friday by the visit of

King Juan Carlos I

, who wanted to set foot in a Formula 1


again. It was the monarch's first appearance at the Grand Circus since the Bahrain GP.

Abu Dhabi 2019 and was private.

The Emeritus, a great racing fan, did not miss the opportunity to greet old acquaintances such as

Pedro de la Rosa


Marc Gené

and followed the evolution of the


in the company of

Carlos Sainz

, four-time winner of the Dakar Rally.

The arrival of the King aboard a golf cart caused the usual stir in the already lively atmosphere of F1.

However, his presence caught

Fernando Alonso


Carlos Sainz Jr

, who had just closed the last free practice sessions in Sakhir with a double.

For security reasons, the monarch guards each of his visits with suspicion.

And due to the obligatory discretion, Aston Martin and Ferrari prohibited the press from distributing photographic material.

In any case, the proximity of both teams in the


made things easier for Don Juan Carlos, who barely had to walk a few steps to access their respective facilities.

Shortly before six in the afternoon he was received in the


hospitality by the Sainz family.

And half an hour later he came out accompanied by the two-time world champion to sit on the terrace in front of a large television.

From Jarama to Formula E

Sainz, a convinced defender of the figure of the monarch, informed him of every detail of what was happening on the asphalt.

Wearing helmets, the King also had a direct line to

Frédéric Vasseur

's garage .

Despite his reduced mobility, the monarch showed his usual good humor both with De la Rosa, ambassador of Aston Martin, and with Gené, his counterpart at Ferrari.

Not to mention the relaxed atmosphere that was perceived alongside the great dominator of the Dakar in the last decade.

Juan Carlos I's passion for F1 dates back several decades.

In fact, older fans often remember his mediating role in the conflict between

Jean Marie Balestre


Bernie Ecclestone

and the drivers during the controversial 1980 Spanish GP, held at Jarama.

That friendship with Ecclestone allowed her to continue officially approaching the Great Circus even after 2014, the year of his abdication.

The last visit of the Emeritus, who had caused great expectation in the Liberty Media environment, dated back to the 2018 Abu Dhabi GP, the same Sunday that Alonso closed the door for the first time with a "See you later."

In recent times, its presence on the circuits has been reduced to the Diriyah E-Prix, one of the Formula E World Cup events, held in Riyadh at the beginning of 2023. In the case of Bahrain, the strong ties with the local dynasty, especially with the holder of the throne,

Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Jalifa

, have further facilitated the arrival of Don Juan Carlos to a Grand Prix that this year celebrates its 20th edition.