Violence, blast mar Bahrain Grand Prix on eve of practice
DUBAI VIOLENCE marred Bahrain’s Grand Prix race as a firebomb exploded near Force India team members and protesters clashed with police in the lead-up to the Formula One practice runs set to begin on Friday.
The incident prompted F1 officials to reassure participants that despite the violence, Bahrain was safe.
Speaking to reporters at the Sakhir circuit, chairman of the Formula One Grand Prix Drivers Association, Pedro de la Rosa, said safety is “not a concern,” adding that he had full faith in the decision by the International Motoring Federation to hold the event despite mounting tensions.
Four members of the Force India team were stuck in traffic when a firebomb exploded as they returned from the Sakhir circuit to their hotel late on Wednesday, Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed R Alzayani told Autosport magazine. Nobody was injured, but one member of the team, based at Silverstone in England, decided afterwards to leave Bahrain and return home. The four mechanics apparently got caught up in a clash between protesters and police on the main motorway from the capital Manama to Sakhir.
Alzayani played down the matter saying he would not request any tighter security as a result. “It was an isolated incident... The protesters were not targeting the cars, they just happened to be there,” he said.
Force India driver German Nico Hulkenberg said it was “not right” that members of his team had been close to an exploding firebomb, but added that he still felt safe.
Bahrain’s main opposition group, Al Wefaq, has called for daily protests to coincide with the Grand Prix.