F1 personnel have been arriving in the Kingdom every day this week, with more coming in through connecting Dubai flights on Thursday. With Friday practice beginning in less than 24 hours, a number of the sport’s international newspaper and television reporters have elected to portray the happenings around Manama; their reports have shown a series of demonstrations, some in which tear gas was used.
However, Nabeel Rajab insists that the protests are not a personal attack on F1.
“Nobody will harm anybody, no-one in a Formula 1 team, nobody," he is quoted as saying by BBC News. “They are angry at the sport but it's not personal, it's about politics. We're protesting to show anger at Formula 1 for conducting the race here.
“People see Formula 1 as representing these dictators and it is not good, not even for Formula 1. The ruling regime should be punished and not rewarded with Formula 1."
Both yesterday and this morning, GPUpdate.net has been in telephone contact with drivers and numerous team workers; some chose not to comment, but those who did share their versions of events have expressed nothing out of the ordinary on their journeys between the airport, hotels and the Sakhir circuit. The only notable observations are a greater police presence on roadsides and at the track.
Bahrain has been on the F1 calendar since 2004, with the exception of last year when the season-opening race was cancelled after the civil unrest broke out.