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Petrol-bomb jitters for F1 teams

2012-04-20 07:38

SUFFER LITTLE CHILDREN: Two Bahraini children hold up images of allegedly tortured activists in front of graffiti depicting anti-government protest in a village just outside the kingdom's capital, Manama. Image: AFP


MANAMA, Bahrain - Force India has tightened up its security procedures since petrol bombs were thrown near a car taking staff back to their hotel from the Bahrain GP circuit.

The team said two staff, one a data engineer and the other a radio contractor, had decided to return home to Britain after the incident but there was no question of the team pulling out of a race that local rights activists want cancelled.


Although only one petrol bomb was mentioned by a team spokesman, sources indicated there may have been several more on the highway to Manama on Wednesday evening during clashes in a nearby village between police anti-government protesters threatening "days or rage" to coincide with the race, Round 4 of the 20-race season.

Its organisers have not heeded calls to cancel the race; the 2011 event was scrapped due to violent demonstrations during the so-called Arab Spring.

Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley said he had met local race organisers, police adviser John Yates and F1 right holder Bernie Ecclestone's right-hand man Pasquale Lattuneddu. "We just want to make sure the right precautions are being taken," said Fernley, who was accompanied by his team's sporting director Andy Stevenson.

"We know there are going to be protests, we know there are going to be elements to it, but to make sure everything is minimised from a team point of view."


Fernley said the UK-based team, part-owned by Indian aviation and beer tycoon Vijay Mallya, understood the two employees''s reasons for wanting to pull out and respected their decision. He added that some British parliamentarians had asked the team to quit the race but government advice was still that it was safe to travel to Bahrain; contractual agreements with the governing body and promoter should be respected.

"We expect a few more protests in the next few days; now we want team members to travel as close as possible together," Fernley said. "We have engaged security here just to give our guys extra comfort and reassurance and are co-ordinating our security with the that of the circuit.

"We don't want our guys getting into a position or a place where they shouldn't be, so we re-route accordingly."

Trackers have been put in their cars and team uniform will not be worn outside the track even though Manama's streets have, by and large, been quiet by day before evening protests. Some teams are removing parking passes from their cars.

Watch an interview with Bob Fernley below:

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