Teams on the edge,Force India skip practice session for ‘safety’ reasons

At 20:50 hrs the 12 mechanics being on that bus noticed fire on the medial strip of the highway.

Written by Reuters | Manama | Published:April 20, 2012 2:01 am

Sauber revealed their Bahrain Grand Prix mechanics had witnessed masked protesters throwing petrol bombs and Force India pulled out of second practice for safety reasons on Friday after an earlier scare. Swiss-based Sauber said in a statement that the mechanics had seen flames in the road after they left the Sakhir circuit in a minibus on Thursday night to return to their hotel in Manama.

“At 20:50 hrs the 12 mechanics being on that bus noticed fire on the medial strip of the highway. The traffic was slow,cars had their hazard flashers on,” the Formula One team said.

On the opposite lane there was no traffic. The team members saw a few masked people running from there over to their lane where a bottle was burning as well. The minibus moved to the very right side of the highway and went past the situation. Four Force India team staff witnessed a similar fiery incident on the highway on Wednesday night.

During second practice,there was nobody on the Force India pit wall and a few mechanics were just working on the cars in the garages. Force India’s deputy principal Bob Fernley said his team would take part in Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race as scheduled.

“It’s not necessarily a ‘get home before dark’ (situation),” he said. “We’ve had issues,and we have to make sure that the crew are comfortable.”

Two of the team’s staff,a data engineer and a radio contractor,went home to Britain after Thursday’s incident. Nobody was hurt in either episode.

On the eve of Friday’s practice session,protests had flared in villages surrounding the capital,far from the circuit where the race will be held. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse demonstrators in clashes that have been building in the week leading to Sunday’s round of the World Championship.

Bahrain’s ruling al-Khalifa family,a Sunni Muslim dynasty ruling a majority Shi’ite population caught between neighbours Saudi Arabia and Iran with opposite sympathies in its internal strife,hopes the race will offer an opportunity to tell the world that life is returning to normal.

Rosberg fastest

Nico Rosberg followed up his first F1 win with Mercedes with the fastest lap in Friday practice. The German,who took the first victory by a Mercedes works team since 1955 at last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix,lapped the desert Sakhir circuit in one minute 32.816 seconds in the afternoon session. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton set the pace in the morning,when Formula One cars took to the reconfigured track for the first time in more than two years after last year’s race was cancelled.

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