The close proximity of civil unrest and danger in Bahrain was made clear to the Force India Formula One team on Wednesday night when a firebomb exploded as it returned from the Sakhir Circuit to its hotel. The incident took place as the vehicle was stuck in a traffic jam, Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed R. Alzayani told Autosport magazine. Nobody was injured, but one member of the team, based at Silverstone in England, decided afterwards to leave Bahrain and return home.

The four mechanics, who were in a hire car, were accidentally caught up in a clash between protesters and police on the main motorway from Manama to the circuit at Sakhir, Alzayani said. The four in the car returned safely to their hotel and they decided to stay on. The team member going home was not involved.

Alzayani played down the matter, and said he would not request any tighter security as a result. “It was an isolated incident — and my wife was involved too,” he said.

“The protesters were not targeting the cars, they just happened to be there. Nobody was injured. I don't command the police. They know what to do better than I do. I have a race to run.”

The blast happened when the traffic came to a halt and a ‘Molotov Cocktail' exploded near their car.

The Force India incident came despite prolonged assurances from the sport's ruling body, the International Motoring Federation (FIA) and Formula One's Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone that the Gulf state is a completely safe place to host this weekend's race.

The blast took place on the outskirts of the City at the end of a first day's work for the teams in Bahrain.

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