Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley is confident that he will not have to face the F1 media and explain another awkward political situation next weekend.
The Briton was in the firing line a year ago when his squad opted to leave the circuit ahead of schedule when one of its crew buses was hit by a petrol bomb after getting caught up in anti-government protests on its way home from the Sakhir circuit. Despite promises for further unrest up to and around next weekend's Bahrain race, however, Fernley is not expecting Force India
to be caught up in the problems.
"Lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place ... I am not expecting any issues at all," he told Reuters
after practice at this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, “There's bound to be something, [and] you'd be a bit foolish to think there's not going to be some sort of protest.”
Two members of the Force India
staff were sufficiently spooked to head home, while the remainder of the team were subject to a curfew designed to to ensure all were back at their hotel before night fell after qualifying and the race.
"Once we'd got over that initial hiccup, we were fine,” Fernley insisted, “It was just that initial part that caused the problems. Once it was dealt with and we settled everything down again, the weekend went to plan for us. [The self-imposed curfew] was a reaction to emotional needs which we had to deal with as a team - it was important we made sure everyone felt comfortable and that we had their interests at heart as a team."
Revealing that Force India
may even travel to Bahrain with an increased level of staffing, Fernley and his squad look certain to witness an escalation of anti-government protests once they arrive in Manama, amid reports that security forces have already had to deal with pockets of unrest in the build-up to the race weekend.
Friday, meanwhile, saw thousands of Bahrainis stage a peaceful march in opposition to the grand prix, and the ruling family's ties to it. Waving the national flag, the crowd shouted their displeasure at king Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa and prime minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa as they demonstrated in the village of al-Aali, close to the capital.
"The grand prix is used by the regime to advertise that there is nothing wrong in Bahrain," one protestor told Reuters
, "We are showing the world that we are still people with demands."