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F1: Force India Mechanics Flee Bahrain After Molotov Cocktail Attack

International Business Times UK

Two members of the Force India Formula One team have requested that they be sent back to Britain, after the team was caught up in a violent clash between protesters and police in Bahrain.

Four mechanics were travelling in a hired car along a motorway in the Bahraini capital of Manama on Wednesday when they were caught up in a protest and forced to stop, before a Molotov cocktail was reportedly thrown by a protester close to their car.

Tear gas fired by police entered the car air conditioning, but the Force India employees escaped from the scene uninjured.

A Force India spokesperson said: "Nobody was hurt from our team. We were not targeted directly by molotov cocktails."

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Following the incident a team member - believed not to have been involved - has flown back to the UK, claiming the event is evidence that it is not safe for Formula One to be in Bahrain.

Zayed Alzayani, chairman of the Bahrain International Circuit, said the incident was an isolated case, which his wife was also involved in.

"The protesters were not targeting the cars, they just happened to be there. Nobody was injured," he said.

It has since been reported that a second member of the Force India team has requested permission to leave the country amid concerns over their safety, according to The F1 Times.

Scottish Force India driver Paul di Resta said after the incident: "Clearly something has happened and there has been an issue, and we've all said we'd take direction from the FIA because they said it is safe.

"We need to see how things develop...I've not spoken to everybody within the team, but there is some concern and some people have felt it a bit more than others."

Di Resta added that, although he has "remained neutral" about events in Bahrain but said that "there is an edge to things at the moment."

The MRS team who compete in the Porsche SuperCup, also due to take place in Bahrain this weekend, have pulled out of the event due to safety concerns.

Team head Karsten Molitor told Autosport:: "It is the first time in our team history that we have had to cancel a race of the Porsche SuperCup. In the end we have the responsibility of our employees."

The 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix was cancelled due to anti-government protests that left nearly 50 people dead. Last week, however, F1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone and the sports governing body the FIA said that the 2012 race will go ahead this weekend.

If the race was cancelled for a second year running then the circuit would have breached its contract with Ecclestone, and the sport would not have returned to the country in 2013 regardless of safety. 

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