Drivers swerve Bahrain issues
A trio of F1's world champions have refused to be drawn on the burning issue overshadowing this weekend's controversial Bahrain Grand Prix.
The tranquility of the paddock at the Bahrain International Circuit is only 25 miles away from the capital Manama, but it is a million miles removed from the battle for pro-democracy being waged on the streets of the Gulf kingdom between protesters and police.
Manama was today the scene of the latest violent clashes, with police using tear gas and stun grenades to disperse a gathering of around 700 people close to the British embassy.
Tomorrow, a protest is scheduled on virtually the doorstep of the BIC in an area just two kilometres north at 1600 local time (1400BST).
The situation is clearly going to get worse before it improves, and with the threat growing that any escalation could result in a last-minute cancellation.
With a group of four Force India personnel caught up in a petrol bomb incident last night, fears are increasing amongst all within F1.
Reigning champion Sebastian Vettel attempted to brush Bahrain's plight under the carpet as he said: "I heard about the issue at Force India.
"Generally in the paddock it seems to be no problem. Outside of the paddock maybe there is a risk, but I think there is a risk everywhere we go."
The Red Bull star added: "I think it's not a big problem.
"I'm happy once we start testing tomorrow because then we worry about the stuff that really matters - tyre temperatures, cars.
"I haven't seen anyone throwing bombs. I don't think it's that bad. I think it's a lot of hype.
"It's good that we start our job here, which is the sport, and nothing else."
Seven-times title winner Michael Schumacher, initially insisted he did not want to get involved before saying: "I just want to say one thing which is I don't want to mix the sport with politics. I'm here for the sport."
The Mercedes driver had a fair point - that is what the drivers should be concentrating on this weekend, instead of fearing they will get caught up in violence.
As for McLaren's Jenson Button, he gave a clear indication he was aware of what has happening in Bahrain, but felt better served to keep his personal opinion to himself.
"I'm not going to get into the details of it," said Button. "You are here interviewing me as a driver and that's exactly what I am going to talk about - motor racing. The outside issues, I'm not going to talk about."
Button admits his focus can only be on one thing, adding: "When you are in the car you don't think of anything else but driving around the circuit trying to feel the car and do the best job you can.
"But when you are outside the car, of course you are asked questions, and of course you understand what is going on around you. Some of us are intelligent human beings."
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