Get the best of CF straight to your inbox.

Subscribe, sit back, and let your mind travel.

48 Hours In...

Rosanna Tennant On Presenting The F1 From Bahrain

The 2023 Formula 1 season kicked off in the Kingdom of Bahrain in March 2023, marking the start of a record-breaking season for the sport: 23 races across 20 countries and five continents. It will come to a close in late November, the last race taking place in Abu Dhabi.

We speak to Rosanna Tennant about her 11-year career presenting F1 across TV and radio shows, and get her insight into Bahrain, the place where the 2023 season kicked off.

This will be my eleventh year working in the sport as a TV and radio presenter. As you might imagine, no two seasons have been the same. Firstly, for the very obvious reason that it’s live sport so the action is always different. Furthermore, each year there are different driver line-ups which creates drama and jeopardy – as you may have already seen in Netflix’s F1 ‘documentary’ Drive to Survive.

Another factor that keeps each year feeling fresh is the schedule; the race calendar switches and changes as certain race tracks terminate or new contracts are signed. If I compare this year to my first, only 14 of the tracks are still on the calendar so as you can imagine after a decade of working in the sport, I have been afforded the opportunity to visit lots of different countries that might otherwise have never found their way on to my travel list. The Kingdom of Bahrain definitely falls into that category.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Rosanna Tennant (@rosannatennant)

I first visited Bahrain in 2016 and have been several times since. It’s an archipelago made up of 50 natural and 33 artificial islands located in the Persian Gulf with a large expat community. I had heard a bit about what it was like to live there from a friend I lived with at university but, apart from that, when someone said ‘the Middle East’ I still thought of Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Oman first. Bahrain was much further down the order, especially when it came to possible holiday destinations.

Formula 1 has been racing in Bahrain since 2004 with only a one year hiatus – in 2011 when the race was cancelled due to civil unrest, and to this day human rights activists continue to speak out against Formula 1’s decision to hold the race there. I hate to admit it, but once I swipe into the F1 Paddock, it feels like I could be anywhere in the world and the need to do my job for the weekend takes over.

Given the nature of my job – early starts and late finishes – and contrary to what a lot of my friends might think, I often have limited time to play ‘tourist’ while I’m away, but at least I know (or hope!) that I might be able to go back again the following year if I don’t get around to doing something I’ve heard about or been recommended.

For this year’s trip to Bahrain, I was with the BBC 5 Live radio team and we were staying in downtown Manama, the capital. Like so many things, work trips involve a lot of compromises; trips can be transformed depending on where the travel department has decided to book my hotel and, whilst this year’s choice was fairly drab, staying near bustling Block 338 was brilliant. The area had really embraced F1 rolling into town with an “F1 Village Market” set up on the main street with stalls selling local arts and crafts.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Rosanna Tennant (@rosannatennant)

The variety of places to eat nearby was excellent from Mexican and Italian to Japanese-Peruvian and the service was spot on. One waiter at the Italian restaurant, Fatto, even played a trick on me as he served my food. “Your tomato soup” he announced, to which I replied, “oh, I thought I was having mushroom soup?” “Just joking!” he quipped. We all chuckled – his humour doing a good job of cheering up my team after a long day at the racetrack and being told the restaurant was dry: alcohol is served in some restaurants but not all of them so make sure you ask before you sit down.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Fatto Bahrain (@fattobahrain)

Our hotel’s prime location also meant I could easily wander out to get a coffee in the morning. I have always struggled to find good coffee in the Middle East but on this visit, I found a great place called Chill. An oat milk flat white will set you back nearly five pounds but that didn’t stop me from visiting again. It was lovely being able to sit outside the café feeling the sun’s warmth on my arms and legs.

Bahrain is predominantly a Muslim country but the rules on what to wear as a woman are more relaxed than you might think, and definitely more relaxed than some other Middle Eastern countries. It’s perfectly acceptable to wear dresses and shorts and it’s fine to show your shoulders. However, if you are visiting Al Fateh Grand Mosque or other sites of worship then you will be given an abayah to wear. I felt safe walking around the city alone and people were kind and helpful to me. I would definitely consider holidaying there either solo or with family and friends.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by •❂ ᎳᎾᏒᏞᎠ ᎳᎪᏞᏦᎬᏒᏃ ❂• 👣🦅🌍 (@world_walkerz)

Even after several trips to the Kingdom of Bahrain, there are still places I’d like to visit and things I’d like to see, such as the Tree of Life – a Prosopis Cineraria tree that is said to be 400 years old. Let’s hope it can hang on for at least one more year so I can go and see it when F1 returns to race there next year.





View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Clay Bahrain (@clay_bahrain)

Calexico: A Mexican restaurant

Mirai: For sushi and sake

Clay Bahrain: Serving Japanese-Peruvian Nikkei

Fatto: For pizzas, pastas (and mushroom soup!)

Chill: Good coffee, Açaí bowls, soft serve, and more.

We may earn a commission if you buy something from any affiliate links on our site.

You May Also Like

Any Questions or Tips to add?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *