Tension between the government and protestors have left one person dead, and there are major security concerns for the teams involved in this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix.
A man was found dead on a roof top on Friday, apparently beaten to death by riot police in a crackdown by the Bahrain government on anti-government protesters. The ruling Sunni Muslim government has been clashing with Shi-ite Muslim protestors, who feel like they have been oppressed and denied economic opportunities, since early last year.
Protestors feel the country is still reeling from unrest that caused the cancellation of last year's race. Clashs between the police and anti-government protestors led to the death of 35 people last year. Since then, the country invited an independent commission to suggest reforms, and while they have adopted some of the commission's suggestions, protesters feel the government hasn't done enough. British Prime Minister David Cameron has urged the Bahraini government permit peaceful protests.
Concerns for driver security are rising while a passive aggressive war is waging between the F1 governing bodies and one of the teams participating in the race. Some of the members of the Force India team were caught between protestors and police on Wednesday on the way back to the hotel, and a petrol bomb was thrown at their car. On Friday, Force India drivers skipped a practice session to ensure their team could get back to their hotel safely before dark. Two Force India drivers were completely left off the world wide broadcast during a qualifying run on Saturday, despite one of the cars finishing in the top ten.
Bernie Ecclestone, head of Formula One Management, told Reuters that it was simply an oversight, and that he wasn't trying to punish the team for missing the Friday practice. In regards to the teams concern for security, he said he didn't understand why they were the only ones having trouble:
"Maybe people are targeting them (the team) for some reason. I don't know," Ecclestone had said after meeting Fernley.
"None of the other teams seem to have a problem. So maybe they've had a message that they are being targeted for something. Maybe nothing to do with being in this country, maybe it's something else."
Sky Sports issued a statement over Twitter that they were not responsible for who was shown on camera, and added to the speculation that the F1 is ignoring Force India by pointing out one of their drivers was the fifth fastest on the second half of the run. Two members of the Force India team have left Bahrain altogether.
Any of the drivers' remaining security concerns will be kept in check on Sunday by the Bahraini military. The track itself is being lined with tanks to ensure that protesters won't be able to disturb the race. Ecclestone dismissed any security concerns as "nonsense."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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