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Force India to skip practice?

2012-04-20 12:07

SAFETY ISSUES RATTLE FORCE INDIA: Force India team members have already left Bahrain, citing safety concerns, and now the F1 team will limit its involvement in the practice rounds leading up to Sunday's race.

BAHRAIN, United Arab Emirates - Force India will limit their involvement during the second practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The team may also skip the session altogether for safety reasons, said deputy team principal Bob Fernley.

He said the team, some of whose members were caught in a petrol bomb incident after leaving the Sakhir circuit, would take part in Saturday's qualifying round and Sunday's race as scheduled.


Fernley said: "We'll be looking at very limited running for FP2 (free practice two). It's not necessarily a 'get home before dark'.

"We've had issues, as you all know, with things and we have to make sure that the crew are comfortable in the environment and that's what we're working on. The crew are totally committed to delivering qualifying and the race. If it means we run a limited or no FP2 to achieve that, that's the decision that we will take," he said.

Two of the team's staff, a data engineer and a radio contractor, went back to Britain after the incident that involved four Force India members as they were returning to their hotel from the circuit.

The Bahrain International Circuit issued a statement referring to "an isolated incident involving a handful of illegal protesters acting violently towards police."

The circuit said: "During this incident a Molotov Cocktail landed in the vicinity of their vehicle. After approximately two minutes, the route was cleared and the vehicle carried on its journey."

There was tighter security at the circuit during the pratice sessions with bag checks and airport-style scanners as well as scores of police cars on the highway south from Manama.

The government hopes to use the Grand Prix as a way of showing that life is back to normal after a democracy movement launched an Arab Spring-inspired uprising in 2011. The protests were initially crushed, but were not stamped out; demonstrations and clashes are frequent.

The petrol-bomb incident was the first directly involving one of the 12 teams preparing for the fourth round of the championship that local rights activists and anti-government demonstrators want cancelled.

Asked why no other teams were thinking of cutting short practice, Fernley said they had not been affected in the same way as Force India: "Sometimes emotions and logic don't always add up."

"I don't believe there will be any issues, there will be protests and I think it was an unfortunate incident. But when it is your team that it happens to, you have to deal with it in a proper manner," Fernley said.

The race is the first in Bahrain since 2010 as the 2011 year was cancelled after a bloody crackdown on unrest in the tiny Gulf kingdom.

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