Fears grow for Bahrain Grand Prix20/04/2012 - 08:33:41
Concerns are starting to grow this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix could face a last-minute call-off.
Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley has insisted there is real will for the race to go ahead and prove a success.
However, in the wake of escalating protests and violence across the Gulf kingdom that affected four Force India employees on Wednesday night, the unease is palpable.
One demonstration is scheduled to take place on the doorstep of the Bahrain International Circuit today at around 4pm local time (2pm Irish time).
The riot police are almost certain to turn out in force, and with the international media so close at hand, they will have to show restraint should the situation escalate.
Yesterday, capital Manama again experienced violent clashes, with police using tear gas and stun grenades to disperse a gathering of around 700 people close to the British embassy.
Horrific pictures were also doing the rounds on Twitter of a protestor with his right eye almost shot out.
With the Coalition of the Youth of the Feb 14 Revolution's 'three days of rage' due to start today, should the sport continue to be in any way affected a re-think over the event could occur.
Fernley, who was happy to allow two members of his team to fly home following what occurred on Wednesday, admits everyone in F1 is simply being guided by the powers that be.
"We have no qualms whatsoever about those two guys wanting to leave, and we respect that," said Fernley.
"You can understand it with families at home that don't see what is going on here.
"Of course, there are issues here which have to be sorted, but let's put them on to a platform where they can be discussed properly at a political level and resolved.
"If the British government had a clear directive on it, as they did last year, then it would put a direct perspective on it.
"But the British government are comfortable and say it (Bahrain) is a safe environment to be in. There are no issues from their point of view, and we have to respect that as a team.
"Up until we physically arrived here we had to take third-party advice, and that was from our governing body and our government."
With Fernley adamant his team will not be withdrawing of their own volition, they have, however, been forced to increase their security measures.
"We just want to make sure the right precautions are being taken," he said.
"Up until now we've been quite free with everything, but there are more protests in the next few days, so what we want is for them (team members) to travel as close as possible together.
"We don't want our guys getting in a position or a place where they shouldn't be, so we will also re-route accordingly.
"For us, it's not about having armed people, we don't have that, but we do have trackers on every vehicle just in case one loses its way.
"We have also decided when we go back at night I will go back to their hotel with the last crew member to make sure they have all returned safely before I go back to mine.
"Our concern is absolutely making sure they are all okay. It's sensible things, nothing outrageous, untoward or sinister, just being sensible."
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