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Safety fears raised as Bahrain protestors hurl petrol bomb over Force India car

April 19, 2012 -- Updated 1636 GMT (0036 HKT)
Protestors in the northern town of Al Dair show their opposition to the upcoming Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix
Protestors in the northern town of Al Dair show their opposition to the upcoming Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Four members of Force India Formula One team caught up in Bahrain protest
  • A petrol bomb is thrown near to vehicle returning staff from the race track
  • One person involved in the incident has left Bahrain to return to the UK
  • Force India say they will continue to take guidance from the sport's governing body

(CNN) -- Two members of Force India's Formula One team have left Bahrain after a petrol bomb was thrown at one of the marque's cars during an anti-government protest.

A vehicle carrying four members of the F1 team became caught up in a demonstration on their way back to the team's hotel in the capital Manama after leaving the circuit where Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix will be held.

The build-up to the race has been dominated by fears that civil unrest in the Gulf kingdom could have an adverse effect on safety for both teams and fans.

Last year's installment was canceled twice but the sport's governing body confirmed on Friday the race would go ahead as planned, despite tension on the country's streets.

Bahrain circuit boss: Race not a big risk

Both the Force India team and local organizers -- the Bahrain International Circuit -- were quick to stress the team's vehicle had not been specifically targeted.

"The team was returning from the circuit last night," Force India press officer Will Hings told CNN. "There was some disruption on one of the highways and the vehicle was momentarily brought to a halt in the traffic jam.

The incident was happening as we arrived but we were not the target
Will Hings, Force India press officer

"After a few minutes the incident unfolded and our crew returned to the hotel. Nobody was hurt and we were not a target. The incident was happening as we arrived but we were not the target."

Hings confirmed that two team members had returned to the UK after the incident on Wednesday evening -- one who was in the car and one who was not.

He added that Force India would continue to take take guidance from Formula One's governing body, the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA).

F1 chief Ecclestone: Sport and politics should not mix-

Most teams have maintained they are happy to race in Bahrain but one of Force India's drivers, Nico Hulkenberg, was quoted by BBC Sport as saying: "We shouldn't have been put in this position."

At a demonstration on Monday in Al Dair, in the north east of Bahrain, many pro-democracy protestors carried anti-F1 slogans. More action is expected to be planned around the weekend's event.

Bernie Ecclestone, the head of Formula One, has continually insisted that sufficient security measures are in place in Bahrain and that the sport had nothing to do with the politics of the country.

A statement from the Bahrain International Circuit confirmed the incident had taken place but underlined that the Force India group had not been singled out for any violence.

"They drove through an isolated incident involving a handful of illegal protestors acting violently towards police," it read. "During this incident a Molotov Cocktail landed in the vicinity of their vehicle.

"After approximately two minutes, the route was cleared and the vehicle carried on its journey. There were no casualties and eyewitness reports from the scene confirmed that their vehicle had not been targeted itself.

"The BIC would like to reiterate its confidence in the relevant Bahrain authorities in their ability to deal with such isolated incidents and can confirm that all the usual precautions are being taken around the track to ensure the level of security is maintained."

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