F1 Bahrain 2012: Practice Takes Place Amid Protests And Safety Concerns [PHOTOS]

By @JasonLeMiere on
  • Anti-F1 Protest
    Anti-Formula One graffiti in the town of Barbar calls for a boycott of the race in the weeks leading up to the Bahrain Grand Prix. Despite the cancellation of the race last year, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone steadfastly refused to abandon this year's race despite increasing calls from the likes of former- Formula One champion Damon Hill. Reuters
  • "UniF1ed"
    A billboard on a highway in Manama tries to rally support and excitement over the upcoming Formula One Grand Prix. Despite Bernie Ecclestone's insistence that the race should go ahead because sport and politics should not mix, Bahrain has adopted the slogan "UniF1ed" for the 2012 event. Reuters
  • Hunger Strike
    Protestors on Wednesday hold a poster calling for the release of human-rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who remains on hunger strike, as well as protesting the holding of the Formula One Grand Prix. Tweets from Al-Khawaja's daughters on Friday suggested that he was close to death, something that is likely to see protests increase in number and ferocity. Reuters
  • Lewis Hamilton
    Current championship leader Lewis Hamilton during the first practice session on Friday. The former champion was quickest in P1 as he looks to win his first race of the 2012 season, following thee third-place finishes to start the year. Reuters
  • Safety Concerns
    Force India deputy principal Bob Fernley (L) talks with John Yates, a police adviser to Bahrain's ministry of interior, on Friday. Two members of the team elected to return home after being caught up in protests on Wednesday, while Force India pulled out of Friday's second practice session. Reuters
  • Nico Rosberg
    Mercdes driver Nico Rosberg looks on from inside the car ahead of going out for a practice run on Friday. The German is looking to continue the pace that saw him win his first grand prix, in Sanghai last weekend. Reuters
  • Bernie Ecclestone
    Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone walks through the paddock at the Sakhir circuit on Friday with Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa (L) and a government delegation. Eccelstone has claimed that responsibility for cancelling the race rests with the government of Bahrain. Reuters
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Friday's practice sessions for the Bahrain Grand Prix were overshadowed by the continued anti-government protests and safety concerns in the Gulf State.

The Force India team elected not to take part in the day's second practice after four mechanics for the British-based outfit were caught up in a clash between police and protestors on Wednesday and only narrowly avoided being hit by petrol bombs.

The incident happened as the mechanics made the journey from the track back to their hotel in the capital, Manama, at night. As a result Force India did not want to take the chance of making the same journey after dusk.

We shouldn't have been put in this position, said Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg, according to the Telegraph. It is obviously not right that that sort of stuff happens.

A similar incident happened to the Sauber team, when a bus carrying 12 mechanics encountered a burning bottle and masked men running toward their vehicle.

No-one was hurt in the incident and Sauber do not believe they were the targets of an attack, according to the BBC.

On the track itself, Nico Rosberg continued his fine form, after taking pole and the checkered flag in China, by finishing top of the time sheets in P2. The Mercedes driver finished 0.446secs ahead of Mark Webber in the Red Bull, with the Australian's team mate a further place back.

Lewis Hamilton, who was almost a second slower than Rosberg in P2, had been the quickest in the day's first practice session.

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