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Two Force India team members to leave Bahrain

Updated: Apr 20, 2012, 13:24 PM IST

London: Two members of the Force India Formula One team have decided to leave Bahrain after a firebomb was set off in traffic near a team vehicle as part of the ongoing anti-government protests.

The firebomb exploded yesterday night in Bahrain`s capital Manama, causing a Force India van with four team members to be delayed in traffic on its way from the Bahrain Grand Prix circuit back to its hotel. No one in the vehicle was hurt and none of the four passengers were Formula One drivers, Force India spokesman Will Hings told reporters.

"We were not the target. We just happened upon an incident that was ahead of us, a disruption in the road," Hings said. "Nobody was hurt from our team. We were not targeted directly by Molotov cocktails."

Hings said the four team members were back at the track today, but later told the AP that one of them was leaving the country and heading back to Europe. Hings said another member of the team who was not in the delayed vehicle was also leaving.

"I won`t be giving any details of their positions or names ... They were just people working for the team," Hings said. "I can`t give you any more information other than that they`re returning home out of their free choice."

Demonstrators in Bahrain have increasingly used firebombs against security forces during the near daily clashes. But Hings declined to comment on whether the team was worried about safety.

"We`ve always taken our direction from the FIA. I`m sure they`re continuing to monitor the situation in Bahrain," Hings said. "We take our guidance from them."

The Bahrain International Circuit said the incident involving the Force India vehicle was caused by "illegal protesters acting violently towards police."

"During this incident a Molotov cocktail landed in the vicinity of their vehicle," the BIC said in a statement. "After approximately two minutes, the route was cleared and the vehicle carried on its journey."

The government said today "a number of rioters and vandals" were arrested.

The Bahrain GP was cancelled last year due to anti-government protests that left nearly 50 dead. But last week, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone declared the Gulf kingdom safe and decided to go ahead with this week`s race.

"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," the circuit said.

Bureau Report