We were sitting in Dubai International Airport, trying to access the Internet ( as often we are) when we saw word that Force India personnel had been caught up in the troubles in Manama overnight. It was entirely predictable – and indeed has been predicted – because the dice are being rolled every day as Formula 1 people go backwards and forwards from the Bahrain International Circuit and hotels in Manama. This involves passing through the belt of Shia villages around the capital where most of the action happens.
Four team members ran into trouble on the main highway, near Manama, when a clash between police and protesters spilled on to the main road. The vehicle was forced to stop but, although a Molotov Cocktail exploded nearby, they were able to get going again and reached the hotel without any further problems.
The Bahrain International Circuit called it “an isolated incident”. I would prefer the description “a lucky escape”. A Molotov Cocktail can land just about anywhere in the middle of such a fight.
And then what happens?
A not so isolated incident? An explosion of F1 people blaming one another? They all know already that going to Bahrain was a risk, even if no-one feels able to say these things out loud. This was exactly the kind of incident that many people in F1 have been fearing because, although the protesters say that F1 staff are not being targeted with violence, there is always a chance that they will be caught in the crossfire.
Today there are due to be more demonstrations in and around Manama, but the biggest fear will be Friday night, the day on which violence has kicked off many times in recent months.