Force India appeared to have been targeted for particular treatment on Saturday with their Formula One cars kept off camera at the Bahrain Grand Prix a day after they pulled out of Friday's second free practice for safety reasons.
The team, some of whose members were caught up in a petrol bomb incident on the highway as they headed back to their Manama hotel in a rented car on Wednesday evening, were the only ones to take such action, wanting to get everyone safely back to their accommodation before nightfall.
The team, run by deputy principal Bob Fernley in the absence of flamboyant Indian aviation and drinks entrepreneur Vijay Mallya, took part in Saturday's final practice and qualifying but their presence would have been undetected by the global television audience.
There was no official comment from either the team or Formula One Management.
"Maybe people are targeting them for some reason. I don't know"
Bernie Ecclestone on Friday after petrol bomb attack
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone had made his irritation evident on Friday as race organisers tried to present the controversial grand prix as a force for unity in the troubled Gulf kingdom.
"Maybe people are targeting them for some reason. I don't know," Ecclestone had said after meeting Fernley.
"None of the other teams seem to have a problem. So maybe they've had a message that they are being targeted for
something. Maybe nothing to do with being in this country, maybe it's something else."
The economically significant race has attracted worldwide condemnation and calls from human rights campaigners and anti-government activists for it to be cancelled, while many other Bahrainis have been supportive of it.
Social network Twitter was abuzz with speculation about Force India's new-found invisibility, with one post suggesting they might have hired a new engineer by the name of Harry Potter.
"For those asking, we have no control over who is being shown on the world feed, sorry you didn't get to see any of (Paul) Di Resta's lap," Sky Sports F1 channel (@skysportsf1) said on their Twitter feed after the second phase of qualifying.
Di Resta qualified 10th, with German team mate Nico Hulkenberg 13th.
Most of Force India's sponsors are companies within Mallya's business empire.
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|William T. Hathaway|