Force India relaxed about return to Bahrain

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Force India’s deputy team principal Bob Fernley has said that the team are unconcerned about Formula One returning to Bahrain next weekend despite the on-going tensions in the country.

Last year, two members of the team flew home after they were caught up in one of the protests, and drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta boycotted one of the free practice sessions due to the violence. However, Fernley believes that there will be no problems in 2013.

“Lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place,” he told Reuters. “I am not expecting any issues at all, but there’s bound to be something.

“You’d be a bit foolish to think there’s not going to be some sort of protest and things like that, but that’s good. If Formula One activates some protests and they want to get things off their chests, that’s good as well.”

When asked about the decision to send the two team members home, Fernley explained that the weekend was trouble free otherwise.

“Once we’d got over that initial hiccup, we were fine. It was just that initial part that caused the problems. Once it was dealt with and we settled everything down again, the weekend went to plan for us.”

Action in Bahrain has intensified in the lead-up to the grand prix, but the race is expected to go ahead as normal.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”