Feb.14 (GMM) With the 2012 season now just weeks away, the most serious doubts yet about April's returning Bahrain Grand Prix have emerged.
Reports claim that, on the eve of the one year anniversary of the bloody 'Day of Rage' protests that led to the cancellation of the race and test in early 2011, violent clashes involving tear gas-firing police have broken out.
"Formula one is monitoring events there", a report in the Guardian newspaper said.
"Formula one's governing body is keeping a low profile because it doesn't want to be part of the mounting pressure and speculation," added journalist Paul Weaver.
International news agencies including Reuters and the Associated Press reported this week's clashes involve protesters trying to reoccupy the symbolic scenes of the 2011 violence.
"Traffic came to a standstill on the main thoroughfare into the capital (Manama), and teargas canisters, rubber pellets and rocks littered the highway," said Reuters, adding that elsewhere "youths threw petrol bombs, iron bars and rocks" and police returned fire with "stun grenades".
The New York Times, meanwhile, referred to numerous online videos graphically depicting badly injured protesters.