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Motorsport | Formula 1

Sebastian Vettel © Reuters

'F1 not in Bahrain to get involved in politics'



World champion Sebastian Vettel and other drivers did not want to be drawn into politics at the Bahrain Grand Prix which takes place against the backdrop of ongoing anti-government protests.

Vettel said on Thursday in the paddocks of the Sakhir race track that he is only concentrating on trying to repeat his victory from 12 months ago.

"Every one who enters the paddocks in the morning, whether he drives or works there, is here for sport and not for getting involved in politcs," Vettel said.

Vettel added it is no secret that the situation ahead of the race weekend - which starts with free practice Friday and culminates in Sunday's race - is tense.

But he expressed confidence that security forces would do their best "that we can conduct our sport as safely as possible."

Political unrest forced the 2011 edition of the Bahrain GP to be cancelled twice, but Formula One returned in 2012 despite several incidents.

This time around, a grassroots protest group, the February 14 Coalition Movement, aims to block roads in protests coinciding with Sunday's Grand Prix. The protesters do not want the race to be held in Bahrain, citing alleged human rights abuses by the government.

Rights watchdogs Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have accused Bahrain of intensifying a crackdown to crush dissent ahead of the Grand Prix.

Reports Thursday said that Bahraini authorities have arrested "terrorists" accused of burning cars and blocking roads in recent days.

Two other German drivers, Adrian Sutil and Nico Hulkenberg, said they felt safe and that it was up to the ruling motorsport body FIA and F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone to determine whether it is safe to race or not.

"If they are convinced that it is safe to drive in a country then we will compete," Hulkenberg said.

Sutil said: "There are more police checkpoints which is a sign of uncertainty. But I have not experienced any incidents. From that point of view things are OK."

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