Force India chose not to run in the second Free Practice session today in Bahrain so that they could leave the Sakhir Circuit before darkness fell in the troubled Gulf state.
This decision came just a day after four of the team’s personnel found themselves caught up in a violent protest. Two of the team have already chosen to return home to England over concerns for their safety.
“We are looking at it from the point of view of ensuring the well being of everybody and the comfort of everybody is in place. And that is the key objective for us,” deputy team principal Robert Fernley told Autosport, explaining why they had forsaken 90 minutes of track time this afternoon.
“We have had issues as you all know with things, and we have to make sure that the crew are comfortable in the environment and that is what we are working on.”
“We are doing the best we can to make sure the crew are safe. We have assurances and I don’t believe there will be any issues. There will be protests and I think it was an unfortunate incident, but unfortunate incidents happen. When it is your team it happens to, you have to deal with it in a proper manner which is what we are doing.”
The Force India press release did not provide much information about the decision to withdraw from FP2, instead putting the rescheduled weekend programme down to ‘logistical reasons’. Both Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta used the soft and medium tyres during the morning session, however, and are confident that they have done enough work going into Saturday.
“The track was very green and dusty to begin with, but we got on with the programme quickly and did the usual balance work, cooling checks and got a feel for both the medium and the soft tyres,” explained Di Resta, who was third fastest at the end of FP1. “The baseline set-up was not a long way off, but our focus for tomorrow is to improve our performance in the low-speed corners.”
Hulkenberg was also sounding positive, despite the loss of track time today. “It was a different approach to FP1 today and we made sure we ran all three sets of tyres to get the data we need for the race,” said the German. “The session went okay and the car felt quite good out of the box, although there is still some fine-tuning to do in FP3.”