20 April 2012
Hulkenberg wary of racing in Bahrain
Nico Hulkenberg breaks ranks and debates whether the Bahrain Grand Prix should go ahead.
Force India's Nico Hulkenberg has admitted that he is not entirely comfortable with the thought of racing in Bahrain this weekend, particularly after some of his team-mates were caught up in anti-government protests earlier in the week.
Speaking after news broke of the firebomb that landed next to the team's hire car, Hulkenberg expressed an opinion a lot of his rivals had steadfastly been avoiding - namely that perhaps there shouldn't be a grand prix this weekend. The race was only given the official sanction of the sport's governing body ahead of last weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, following weeks of speculation that it may follow the 2011 event and end up being cancelled as a result of ethical and security concerns amid ongoing anti-government and pro-democracy protests. While teams have privately expressed concerns, few of the drivers - Mark Webber has been noticeably vocal in both 2011 and 2012 - have felt the need to speak out in opposition to it.
"We shouldn't have been put in this position," Hulkenberg, who maintained that he personally felt safe, insisted to BBC Sport, "It is obviously not right that that sort of stuff happens. We are here to race. The F1 business is about entertainment and these sort of things should not really be happening to us.
"Whether it is right or not I don't really know. It's difficult to say. I am not a politician, I am an F1 driver, but it should not really be happening should it? It is not good that we have to worry about it. That is the way it is now and let's see and hope that the rest of the weekend is good and calm."
Team-mate Paul di Resta confirmed that he was happy to follow whatever decision the team took, despite admitting that Wednesday's incident had made him feel 'uncomfortable', while other drivers insisted that they were not going to get drawn into the debate over whether the event should go ahead.
"Outside the paddock, there is a risk, but I think there is a risk everywhere we go," reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel claimed, "In Brazil, it is not really the place you want to be depending on the area you are. But I haven't seen anyone throwing bombs, so [perhaps] there is a lot of hype."
While Hulkenberg, di Resta and Vettel joined their rivals in opening practice on Friday morning at BIC, Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley admitted that the Silverstopne-based squad may curtail its involvement in FP2 in order to avoid a repeat of Wednesday's incident. He insisted, however, that he was not opposed to F1 coming to Bahrain.
"With all due respect, I don't think the FIA or the Bahraini authorities ever said safety was 100 per cent guaranteed," he told journalists, "We all knew there was a slight risk in coming here, and that risk is worthwhile if it puts the platform in place for debate, to be able to get Bahrain into a healthy position."
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