Sakhir, Sunday: A week before the Bahrain Grand Prix kicks off the 2010 season, officials at the Sakhir track have revealed the real reason behind the decision to run this year’s race on a new, longer layout.

The extra loop on the circuit has met with a mixed reaction in the motorsport press, with some critics panning it for being too slow and adding little in the way of character to the track. Today, circuit bosses responded to this criticism for the first time: “Our track is already a very flat, unmemorable design in the middle of a vast and featureless desert,” a Sakhir spokesman said. “How much more character do you need?

Altered: Bahrain's Sakhir circuit

“In addition, we have to confess that there were some ulterior motives to our plan. We feel that Michael Schumacher could pose a problem here – at his age, it is only natural that he might want to pull over during qualifying and rest for a little bit.

“He is already familiar with the old layout of the track, which we believe means that he will know where all the best parking spots are. With this added extra section, we aim to make it more difficult for Michael to park up, which will ensure that the qualifying session – particularly the pole position shootout, by which time poor Michael will probably be exhausted, after all – will run smoothly.”

However, other circuit owners have slammed the plans: “It’s ludicrous,” said Damon Hill, president of Silverstone’s BRDC. “They’ve spent millions of dollars on adding a superfluous and unnecessary extension to the track that will contribute absolutely nothing to the racing. What a bunch of idiots.”