While the FIA and Formula 1 commercial manager Bernie Ecclestone continue to issue assurances that the Gulf state of Bahrain is completely safe for holding this weekend's grand prix, team personnel have already been caught up in protests over the race in the troubled Gulf state. On Wednesday night, a member of the Force India team returned home to the UK in the wake of fellow team members getting involved in an incident on the way home from the circuit.
A rental car with four Force India mechanics was accidentally caught up in a clash between protestors and police on the main highway into Manama. After being forced to come to a halt, a Molotov cocktail exploded near their car, although fortunately no one was injured.
While the team members were able to return to their hotel, and the incident was not as a result of them being targeted because they are part of the F1 community, it was enough for another member of the team to conclude that he would prefer not to remain in Bahrain. The four mechanics involved in the incident, which took place shortly after nightfall in Bahrain, will continue with their duties for the remainders of the weekend.
Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed R Alzayani played down the matter, and said he would not request any tighter security as a result of what happened.
"It was an isolated incident, and my wife was involved too," he said. "The protestors were not targeting the cars, they just happened to be there. Nobody was injured.
"I don't command the police; they know what to do better than I do. I have a race to run."
On Thursday, F1 drivers continued to say they felt no unusual concerns regarding security, while a former leader of the opposition to the Bahraini government also publicly backed the race (see related stories).