Safety fears limit Force India practice session

 

Force India are to play a limited role in second practice later today ahead of this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix due to safety concerns.

The decision comes in the wake of four team members being caught up in a petrol-bomb incident en route to Manama from the Bahrain International Circuit on Wednesday.

It means all team members will now leave the track and be back in their hotel before it gets dark, when a number of violent protests are again due to take place across the Gulf island.

Asked if the team were pulling out of FP2, deputy team principal Bob Fernley said: "We're going to limit it.

"We are looking at it from the point of view of the well being of everybody, and the comfort of everybody is in place, and that's the key objective for us.

"But the team is absolutely fully committed to racing here. We will be there for qualifying and the race."

 



Asked as to his definition of limited, Fernley added: "We're just going to look at the programme of what we're going to do now.

"It's possible we may not run at all, or just do half a session or whatever it is.

"We're looking at the engineers' reports. We did a lot of work this morning as you probably saw, so we have the data we need, so we can afford, if necessary, to miss out on FP2."

Wednesday's incident saw the four team members involved in a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It is understood a pitched battle ensued between demonstrators and police, with eight petrol bombs landing in the vicinity of the traffic hold-up in which the Force India car was caught, forcing the riot police to respond with tear gas.

None of the four were injured, but the incident has sent a shockwave through the team and Formula One in general.

Two team members, one of whom was in the car at the time, flew home yesterday citing their fears regarding safety.

Addressing the security concerns again, Fernley added: "We've had issues, as you all know.

"We have to make sure that the crew are comfortable in their environment, and that's what we are working on.

"But the crew are totally committed to qualifying and the race, and if it means we run limited or no FP2 in order to achieve that, then that's the decision we'll take."

Fernley insists the team are not rattled, but believes they have had to put their own measures in place in light of what occurred.

"We have a plan which we are totally comfortable with, and totally committed to, so there are no issues with that at all," said Fernley.

"We're doing the best we can to make sure the crew are safe. I don't believe there will be issues, but there will be protests.

"Although what happened was an unfortunate incident, when it's your team it happens to, you have to deal with it in a proper manner, which is what we're doing."

Fernley, however, refused to condemn the FIA for opting to go ahead with the race, as was definitively confirmed last Friday.

"With all due respect, I don't think the FIA or the Bahraini authorities ever said safety was 100% guaranteed," said Fernley.

"We all knew there was a slight risk in coming here, and that risk is worthwhile taking if it puts the platform in place for debate, to be able to get Bahrain into a healthy position.

"Our team are very prepared to do that, but we have to do it within the confines of making sure we have a crew committed to our programmes, which we have today."

Asked as to why only his team were taking such a stance, Fernley said: "Because we're the only team to be affected.

"Sometimes emotions and logic don't necessarily add up."

PA

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