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Motor Racing

Bahrain grand prix organiser slams 'terrorist' protesters


Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed R Alzayani has described those protesting against this weekend's grand prix as "terrorists".

The February 14 Youth Coalition, an underground movement, this week embarked on a campaign entitled "volcanic flames", as part of their condemnation of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Slickly produced videos have appeared on YouTube of the protesters blocking main roads with tyres before setting fire to them, sending the ordinary public travelling in their cars scattering to safety.

It is incidents such as those that anger Alzayani. But the man behind the track that this weekend stages its ninth running of the event has no qualms with those who peacefully call for reform in this troubled Gulf island kingdom. "I am totally against violence. No matter what cause you have you have no right to disrupt the normal process of life," said Alzayani.

"That is not democracy, that is terrorism. There are no two ways about it. Whether you do that hiding behind human rights, politics, religion, it's just wrong. The country and the constitution allow people to protest in a civil, non-violent way. That happens anywhere in the world, and I have no problem with that.

"But to go along and extend that to blocking roads, burning tyres, or attacking police and civilians, the minute you do that you cross the line."

Away from the politics, Lewis Hamilton believes the race will be better than last year from a tyre point of view, as Pirelli have brought their hardest compounds, and believed he now has a Mercedes that can be strong anywhere after a fourth place in the season opener in Australia and two third-place podium finishes in the last two races.

"I couldn't show our true pace in the last weekend's race in China because of rubber debris clogging the flaps in my front wing. When it was cleared during pit stops the car went better, but then started to understeer more as the wing clogged again," he explained.