'We fear most the possibility of some sort of track invasion'

Crown Prince Salman admits there is danger but refuses to consider cancelling the race

Bahrain

As sparks continued to fly around the tinderbox of Bahrain, and as the troubled kingdom's Grand Prix drew ever closer, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa refused to countenance cancelling the event.

Yesterday, amid initial rumours that they might head home, the Force India team did not run in the afternoon practice session, preferring to finish early and rebuild morale after the incident on Wednesday evening in which four team members were momentarily caught up in clashes between police and protesters and had a Molotov cocktail land close to their vehicle.

A Force India team van was also momentarily confronted by a burning tyre that was rolled in front of it.

The deputy team principal, Bob Fernley, said: "We are absolutely committed to racing here. What we are doing is a slight rescheduling to meet the requirements that we need to do – and that will take place. But we will be there for qualifying and for the race.

"We have had issues, as you all know, and we have to make sure that the crew are comfortable in the environment. But the crew are totally committed to delivering qualifying and the race – and if it means a limited or no FP2 [Friday second practice session] in order to achieve that, that is the decision we will have to take.

"We are doing the best we can to make sure the crew are safe. We have assurances and I don't believe there will be any issues. There will be protests and I think it was an unfortunate incident, but unfortunate incidents happen. When it is your team it happens to, you have to deal with it in a proper manner."

An independent poll published yesterday suggested that 77 per cent of the population were in favour of the race going ahead. Crown Prince Salman said: "I genuinely believe that the race is a force for good. All of the people are excited that you are here.

"I guarantee the problems faced by Force India were not directed at Formula One. Cancelling the race would encourage extremists."

Sauber also reported an incident on Thursday evening, when their minibus was approached by masked men as it had to slow down on the motorway. "The mechanics noticed fire on the median strip of the highway," said the team spokesman, Hanspeter Brack. "The traffic was slow, cars had their hazard flashers on. The team members saw a few masked people running 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."

Though no team personnel were injured in any of the incidents, they ratcheted up the tension as more demonstrations were held. The first was on the Zayyaq Highway, close to the Bahrain International Circuit, immediately after the second practice.

Others followed in the wealthy Saar suburb and Banijamrah later in the evening. Both are near the troubled Budaiya Road area in the north-west. The US Embassy leaked information on no-go areas, which include the area to the left of Hamad Road on the route back from the circuit towards Manama, the area to the east by Sanad and Sitra which have previously seen trouble, and the north-west area by Sanabis, not far from the old Pearl Roundabout and the opulent Ritz Carlton Hotel, where a fourth demonstration was held in the vicinity of Karranah and Abu Saiba.

A fifth demonstration is planned near the University of Bahrain, much closer to the Formula One circuit, at 4pm tomorrow, right in the middle of the race.

The Bahraini government has imposed a curfew on the waterways around the kingdom between 6pm and 4am. "Of course we fear most the possibility of some sort of track invasion on Sunday during the race, or some sort of protest on the grid prior to the start," said Crown Prince Salman, who is also chief executive of Bahrain International Circuit, on Thursday evening. "But we have tried to be subtle in our security."

Quizzed on the morality of running the race, team principals Norbert Haug (Mercedes), Christian Horner (Red Bull), Eric Boullier (Lotus), Bob Fernley (Force India) and Stefano Domenicali (Ferrari) refused to comment.

But McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh said: "The calendar has been set for some time and we are competitors, so we are here to race. There is a lot of support in all parts of society, but often the majority are not heard on these occasions."

Crown Prince Salman said: "Protests will happen, it's part of the political process in any country. But there's a very big difference between protesting and rioting."

Yesterday the action on the race-track was of secondary importance. Lewis Hamilton headed the first session for McLaren and the Shanghai winner, Nico Rosberg, led the second for Mercedes.

Suggested Topics
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Life & Style
life
Arts & Entertainment
Back in the suit: There are only so many variations you can spin on the lives or adventures of Peter Parker
filmReview: Almost every sequence and set-up in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems familiar from some earlier superhero film
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones
tv
Life & Style
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund
lifeAs his son’s bar mitzvah approaches, CofE-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys he’s experienced in learning about his family’s other faith
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
comedy... writes Jenny Collier, the comedian whose recent show was cancelled because there were 'too many women' on the bill
News
House proud: keeping up with the Joneses now extends to children's playhouses
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
Life & Style
Stir it up: the writer gets a lichen masterclass from executive chef Vivek Singh of the Cinnamon restaurants
food + drinkLichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines
Extras
indybest
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival
filmKen Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
News
The academic, Annamaria Testa, has set out on her website a list of 300 English words that she says Italians ought to stop using
newsAcademic speaks out against 'Italianglo' - the use of English words in Italian language
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit