While the Bahrain Grand Prix posed one of its biggest crises to the series in 2012 as the race was held during anti-government protests, in fact, the race had difficult controversies from its inception in 2004.
With only a few months to go before the scheduled April 4 race date that year, the track near Manama was still not finished. Bahrain had spent $150 million to build the new track, the Bahrain International Circuit, in addition to paying tens of millions of dollars to the Formula 1 promoter for the Grand Prix rights.
The construction of the circuit was so behind schedule that Formula 1 had to dispatch an expert in setting up its races and venues, Philippe Gurdjian, a Frenchman, to whip the project into shape.
Gurdjian said he feared that the freshly laid tarmac would be too difficult to drive on because of sand and hydrocarbons associated with the new surface. Drivers and engineers, too, feared the effects of the desert sand blowing onto the track and into the engines.
In addition, Bahrain had been aiming for 100,000 people to attend the race weekend, but up until a few weeks before the event the promoters had sold only 40,000 tickets. Moreover, there were only 13,000 hotel rooms in the kingdom, and about 4,000 of them had to be reserved for Formula One teams, sponsors and media.
Finally, to top it all off, the British Consulate released a statement saying that the race might be the target of a terrorist attack.
In the end, however, the circuit was finished in time and the race went on without a hitch. It was won by Michael Schumacher and no teams or drivers had problems with the sand. There were no terrorist attacks.
Since then, the race has managed to go on every year except 2011. Although it has never attracted the audiences it had hoped - despite some 150 million people living within a two-hour flight of the circuit - the Bahrain Grand Prix has drawn $400 million to $500 million annually into the economy from visitors to the country, according to the government and an independent study.
In 2011, the race was called off by the Bahrain government after the Arab Spring uprising began in February and the government decided it must focus on dialogue with the opposition and protesters rather than on the race.
In 2012, protests were held almost daily before the race, but the government decided to use the race to create a sense of unity in the country and to try to show the world that business and life are back to normal in Bahrain.
In fact, the race has become an integral part of the Gulf kingdom's effort to diversify its economy.
Bahrain had held desert rally events since the 1950s and there have been drag-racing competitions in the kingdom for several decades. But the staging of a Formula One race was a way to use the tip of the international motor-racing pyramid to develop the sport into something much more lucrative: an auto-racing business.
The Formula 1 circuit became the center of motor sport in the region, holding many other events, including drag races, sports car races, Formula 3 races and the Australian V8 Supercar series.
After Schumacher's victory at the first Bahrain Grand Prix in 2004 - the year he won the last of his seven drivers' titles - Fernando Alonso won the next two Bahrain Grands Prix, in years in which he also won the drivers' title. Felipe Massa then won the race in 2007 and 2008 - missing the title by one point in 2008 - and Jenson Button won in 2009, the year he won the drivers' title. Alonso won the race again in 2010.