Sport

Crown Prince will not cancel GP

AS sparks continued to fly around the tinderbox of Bahrain, and as the troubled kingdom's Grand Prix drew ever closer, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa refused to countenance cancelling the event.

Yesterday, amid initial rumours that they might head home, the Force India team did not run in the afternoon practice session, preferring to finish early and rebuild morale after the incident on Wednesday evening in which four team members were momentarily caught up in clashes between police and protesters and had a Molotov cocktail land close to their vehicle.

A Force India team van was also momentarily confronted by a burning tyre that was rolled in front of it.

The deputy team principal, Bob Fernley, said: "We are absolutely committed to racing here. What we are doing is a slight rescheduling to meet the requirements that we need to do - and that will take place. But we will be there for qualifying and for the race.

"We have had issues, as you all know, and we have to make sure that the crew are comfortable in the environment. But the crew are totally committed to delivering qualifying and the race - and if it means a limited or no FP2 [Friday second practice session] in order to achieve that, that is the decision we will have to take.

"We are doing the best we can to make sure the crew are safe. We have assurances and I don't believe there will be any issues. There will be protests and I think it was an unfortunate incident, but unfortunate incidents happen. When it is your team it happens to, you have to deal with it in a proper manner."

An independent poll published yesterday suggested that 77 per cent of the population were in favour of the race going ahead. Crown Prince Salman said: "I genuinely believe that the race is a force for good. All of the people are excited that you are here.

"I guarantee the problems faced by Force India were not directed at Formula One. Cancelling the race would encourage extremists."

Sauber also reported an incident on Thursday evening, when their minibus was approached by masked men as it had to slow down on the motorway. "The mechanics noticed fire on the median strip of the highway," said the team spokesman, Hanspeter Brack. "The traffic was slow, cars had their hazard flashers on. The team members saw a few masked people running over to their lane, where a bottle was burning as well. The minibus moved to the very right side of the highway and went past the situation."

Though no team personnel were injured in any of the incidents, they ratcheted up the tension as more demonstrations were held. The first was on the Zayyaq Highway, close to the Bahrain International Circuit, immediately after the second practice.

Others followed in the wealthy Saar suburb and Banijamrah later in the evening. Both are near the troubled Budaiya Road area in the north-west. The US Embassy leaked information on no-go areas, which include the area to the left of Hamad Road on the route back from the circuit towards Manama, the area to the east by Sanad and Sitra which have previously seen trouble, and the north-west area by Sanabis, not far from the old Pearl Roundabout and the opulent Ritz Carlton Hotel, where a fourth demonstration was held in the vicinity of Karranah and Abu Saiba.

A fifth demonstration is planned near the University of Bahrain, much closer to the Formula One circuit, at 4pm tomorrow, right in the middle of the race.

The Bahraini government has imposed a curfew on the waterways around the kingdom between 6pm and 4am. "Of course we fear most the possibility of some sort of track invasion on Sunday during the race, or some sort of protest on the grid prior to the start," said Crown Prince Salman, who is also chief executive of Bahrain International Circuit, on Thursday evening. "But we have tried to be subtle in our security."

Quizzed on the morality of running the race, team principals Norbert Haug (Mercedes), Christian Horner (Red Bull), Eric Boullier (Lotus), Bob Fernley (Force India) and Stefano Domenicali (Ferrari) refused to comment.

But McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh said: "The calendar has been set for some time and we are competitors, so we are here to race. There is a lot of support in all parts of society, but often the majority are not heard on these occasions."

Crown Prince Salman said: "Protests will happen, it's part of the political process in any country. But there's a very big difference between protesting and rioting."

Yesterday the action on the race-track was of secondary importance. Lewis Hamilton headed the first session for McLaren and the Shanghai winner, Nico Rosberg, led the second for Mercedes.

Topics:  formula one motorsport



VOTE: Should cats be kept inside, even during the day?

A Goonellabah resident is concerned about feral cats killing wildlife in the area.

This Goonellabah woman is fed up with cats killing wildlife

Puppetry of the Penis secrets revealed ahead of Ballina show

The famed Puppetry of the Penis is coming to the Sunshine Coast for shows in Noosa and Caloundra.

WARNING: This interview contains adult themes and traces of nuts

Carefree photo gets judges jumpin' and captures prize

SUMMER FUN: Winner of 2017 I am Summer competition, Everybody was jumpin jumpin, taken by Bridie Schmidt.

Photographers sent us photos depicting what summmer means to them.

Local Partners

Back to school: Get your family ready

IT'S that time of year again: School holidays are drawing to a close and term time fast approaches.


Puppetry of the Penis secrets revealed ahead of Ballina show

The famed Puppetry of the Penis is coming to the Sunshine Coast for shows in Noosa and Caloundra.

WARNING: This interview contains adult themes and traces of nuts

Ahoy! The Wooden Boat Festival is on its way

Members of the Richmond River Rowing & Sailing Club admire Mark Pierce's boat Northbridge Junior, ahead of the 2017 Wooden Boat Festival on Australia Day. Back row, from left, is Mark Pierce, Jacqueline Heap, Commodore Phil Robbins and James Kalaf. At front, from left, is Tony Pullyn, George Renault, David Bowler, Geoff Benson and Maurice Renault.

Australia Day event a must-see for fans of timber craft

Northern Rivers murder mystery takes out award at Flickerfest

MURDER MYSTERY: Northern Rivers young actress Yasmin Honeychurch in a still from the award-wiining film In a Canefield by Emily Avila and Coralie Tapper.

Finding'little star' brought film shoot to the region.

Why Emma Watson turned down Cinderella

Emma Watson in a scene from the movie Beauty and the Beast.

HARRY Potter star has standards when it comes to Disney princesses.

Wonder Woman a ‘disjointed disaster’, says DC insider

Gal Gadot in a scene from the movie Wonder Woman.

INSIDER says the much-hyped blockbuster will disappoint.

Kid nails Swift impersonation

Seven-year-old Xia Vigor nails Taylor Swift impersonation on the Philippine talent show Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids.

TAYLOR Swift has a seven-year-old doppelganger.

Puppetry of the Penis secrets revealed ahead of Ballina show

The famed Puppetry of the Penis is coming to the Sunshine Coast for shows in Noosa and Caloundra.

WARNING: This interview contains adult themes and traces of nuts

Ariana Grande 'hardest working 23-year-old on Earth'?

Ariana Grande

Not everyone was impressed with Grande’s self-proclaimed work ethic

Why The Walking Dead cast are paid a pittance

Despite massive ratings the cast haven't been shown the money

'That’s the nature of commercial reality': Lismore council

GAME CHANGER: The $13 million proposal by Quest proposal is for a three-storey complex featuring 41 serviced apartments, 53 on-site carparks, 24-hour on-site management, a gymnasium and modern guest facilities.

"It's a shame the development is no longer on the table"

Thousands of jobs part of $1b retirement village project

THIS YEAR: An artist impression of the new Aveo retirement village in Springfield.

Aveo Springfield unveiled this month, homes ready by July

KNIFE-EDGE: The housing tightrope we now face

Even the smallest interest rate rise will be hard for some to handle.

One if five home owners at risk, according to new analysis

LAND VALUES: Figures reveal how much your property is worth

Land values in Ballina have increased over the past 12 months.

Property in one Northern Rivers town has increased by almost 14%

6 new estates to build a home on the Northern Rivers

Land estates are available now on the Northern Rivers with some stages opening up soon.

Looking for a place to put down roots and raise a family?

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!