Bahrain Grand Prix: Hulkenberg questions decision to race

Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg has questioned the decision to race in Bahrain as street violence continues in the Gulf Kingdom.

Four Force India team members were forced to flee as protesters clashed with police.

"We shouldn't have been put in this position," Hulkenberg told BBC Sport.

His team-mate Paul di Resta said it was "an uncomfortable situation", but he wants to race unless the sport's governing body, the FIA, say otherwise.

Anti-government protests in Bahrain caused the 2011 race to be called off and a number of teams expected a similar outcome for this year's race amid security concerns.

Bahrain GP factfile

  • First held: 2004
  • Last race: 2010
  • 2010 race winner: Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
  • Circuit length: 5.412km
  • Laps: 57
  • 2011 race: The event was called off because of anti-government protests in the Gulf state
  • 2012 race: A number of teams expected this year's event to be cancelled, but the FIA said the race will go ahead
  • Schedule: First practice begins at 0800 BST on Friday, Qualifying at 1200 BST on Saturday, Race at 1300 BST

Last week, the FIA said the race would go ahead as it was "satisfied that all the proper security measures are in place for the running of a Formula 1 world championship event."

Teams and drivers are known to have private misgivings about the wisdom of racing in Bahrain amid ongoing civil unrest - protests have continued in the capital Manama with more scheduled for near the circuit on Sunday's race day - but Hulkenberg is the first to publicly question the decision.

"It is obviously not right that that sort of stuff happens," Hulkenberg said. "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 a formula 1 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."

When asked if he felt safe in Bahrain, the German said: "I feel okay, yeah."

One of the Force India team members who was involved in the incident on Wednesday has flown home to the UK.

"It's an uncomfortable situation, what happened on Wednesday," Di Resta told BBC Sport. "Some people in the team have been negative towards it.

F1 drivers on Bahrain situation

"I'm totally comfortable with their decision and I support why they have taken action."

Di Resta insisted he wanted to stay in Bahrain but called on the sport's decision makers to monitor the situation.

"It is normal business at the moment in the paddock," he said. "I feel comfortable and if there is a race going on, I definitely want to be a part of it. We're here to do one thing.

"The team have taken direction from the FIA. They say it's safe to travel. We have to take direction from our team because that's what we're contracted to do.

"There are some big people around Formula 1 who make the decisions. I hope they are taking more of a view, having a closer look, getting a bit more actively involved in it and they will guide us through."

Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley added: "I think all precautions have been taken. Clearly there are going to be some demonstrations, there's no question of that.

"We are assured those are likely to be peaceful. There's not going to be many issues from our point of view. We're completely comfortable with that."

McLaren's Jenson Button refused to be drawn on the matter: "I'm not going to get into the details of it. You're here interviewing me as a driver, and that's exactly what I'm going to talk about - motor racing.

"The outside issues I'm not going to talk about because it's not what I'm here to do."

Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel said: "Outside the paddock there is a risk, but I think there is a risk everywhere we go.

"In Brazil, it is not really the place you want to be depending on the area you are.

"I haven't seen anyone throwing bombs, there is a lot of hype. It is good we start our job here which is sport and nothing else."

Lotus driver Romain Grosjean added: "We can not ignore the situation but we are sportsmen, not politicans.

"Hopefully the race can give a better vision of Bahrain and it may help."

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso said: "We are here because the decision made by people who had all the information in their hands.

"Everyone thinks it is safe to be here. So no problem."

Bahrain Grand Prix 2012, day one

  • Friday 20 April: First practice 0755-0935 and second practice 1155-1335 BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and live text commentary on BBC Sport website.

Bahrain Grand Prix 2012, day two

  • Saturday 21 April: Third practice 0855-1005 BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; Qualifying 1155 BBC Radio 5 live and live text commentary on BBC Sport website; Qualifying replay 1720-1840 BBC One HD.

Bahrain Grand Prix 2012, day three

  • Sunday 22 April:: Race 1255 BBC Radio 5 live and live text commentary on BBC Sport website; Race replay 1700-1820 BBC One HD ; Highlights 0100-0220 BBC Two and Red Button.