Uneasiness in Force India as two members leave Bahrain
Manama, April 19 (IANS) Force India driver Paul Driver raised concerns over the security here for the Bahrain GP after one of the vehicle of the Silverstone-based team escaped a fire bomb Wednesday night, prompting two team members to leave Bahrain.
"The team, like many others, has taken steps on security. Clearly something has happened and there has been an issue, and we've all said we'd take direction from the FIA because they said it is safe. We need to see how things develop," Di Resta was quoted as saying by The Daily Telegraph.
Aasked if the race was safe, Di Resta said it was tough to answer, noting the incident had affected morale of everybody associated with the race.
"It's a difficult one, isn't it. I'm sure it's affecting everybody at the moment, the actions that have happened. I've not spoken to everybody within the team, but there is some concern and some people have felt it a bit more than others.
"As for me, I'm pretty neutral. It's how I've felt for the last couple of weeks, although there is an edge to things at the moment. It's early (into the weekend) and everybody is here, and at the end of the day if there is a race on then I want to be racing," Di Resta told reporters at the track at Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) Thursday morning.
The incident took place when the team vehicle was making its way from the Grand Prix circuit back to its hotel Thursday. None of the four team members, who were in the vehicle were not injured.
According to media reports, the vehicle came under attack when it was caught up in traffic when anti-government protesters clashed with security forces.
Di Resta sympathised with the team members who are going back home.
"I can understand that everybody has their own feelings and families. I'm not sure what has driven them to make their decision. It's an unfortunate circumstance, and it's affected our team," he said.
Di Resta, however, believes that the incident was an isolated one since it took place on a main highway and not off the beaten track.
"The guidelines and the way the team are approaching things at the moment are the same, and I think they'll continue to do that. I believe all the teams are also working together with all the information they have. We're just going about things as normal.
"I don't think, from what we've seen at the moment, the people (protesters) are here to hurt us. The people we have providing us with information are telling us it's demonstrations, and you hope their opinion is right. Everybody is individual, but when you feel uncomfortable, then you take action like the two people in our team have done. Right now, I don't feel that uncomfortable, but then I've not been here long enough to understand it," he said.
In a statement, the BIC down played the incident.
"It was an isolated incident involving a handful of illegal protesters acting violently towards police. During this incident a 'Molotov cocktail' landed in the vicinity of their (Force India) vehicle. After approximately two minutes the route was cleared and the vehicle carried on its journey.
"There were no casualties and eyewitness reports from the scene confirmed their vehicle had not been targeted itself. The BIC would like to reiterate its confidence in the relevant Bahrain authorities in their ability to deal with such isolated incidents. We can confirm that all the usual precautions are being taken around the track to ensure the level of security is maintained," the statement read.
Force India spokesperson Will Hings also said that the team vehicle was not the target.
"Nobody was hurt from our team. We were not targeted directly by the Molotov cocktails. We were just caught up in the traffic and the we were not the target," said Hings.
Hings said the race, over the weekend, will continue as scheduled and world motorsports body FIA was monitoring the situation.
"We are working under the guidance from FIA and I am sure they are keeping a close eye on the development in the area," Hings said.
Several demonstrations were held in and around Panama Wednesday night as protesters clashed with security forces. Fire bombs are being regularly used in these attacks.
The Bahrain GP was cancelled last year after anti-government protests in the Gulf kingdom claimed nearly 50 lives.
But last week, Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone gave a green signal to the race declaring the Bahrain was safe to host this year's race.
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