In a shocking news ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix this Sunday: In a shocking news ahead of the Brazilian GP race, Newly crowned Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton’s team members were robbed at gunpoint in Sao Paulo by armed men who ambushed the teams’ minibus.
The Mercedes F1 squad members were returning back to their hotel from the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace circuit in Sao Paulo, where their minibus was ambushed by armed men at around 10 pm (local time).
Hamilton tweeted about the incident saying, “Some of my team were held up at gun point last night leaving the circuit here in Brazil. Gun shots fired, gun held at ones head. This is so upsetting to hear. Please say a prayer for my guys who are here as professionals today even if shaken.”
“This happens every single year here. F1 and the teams need to do more, there’s no excuse!” the Brit added.
In a statement, Mercedes said: “Valuables were stolen but everybody is safe and uninjured which is the main thing.”
Staff from the FIA, the sport’s governing body, and the Williams F1 team are believed to have escaped similar incidents on Friday night.
During the 2010 Brazilian GP, former world champion Jenson Button was ambushed by gunmen when he left the same track.
Button, who was travelling with his late father John, trainer Mike Collier and manager Richard Goddard, escaped unharmed. The same evening, three Sauber engineers were robbed at gunpoint though but managed to escape unhurt.
Button described his driver as a “legend” after he managed to get the Briton to safety by fleeing through traffic.
Button said: “We got in between six cars to get past and got away. Looking behind there were two guys with a handgun and one guy with what looked like a machine gun.
“It was a pretty scary situation – it’s not a very comfortable feeling, not great.”
Mercedes F1 team boss Toto Wolff commented: “Brazil is a wonderful country, but we should not need armoured vehicles to travel safely from the hotel to the track.”
Williams F1 driver Felipe Massa is a Sao Paulo native, but he admitted to Globo on Saturday that he has no plan of returning to the troubled city to live with his family.
“It is so sad not only for those who are having the problem but also for Brazilians. But it just shows how much the country needs to evolve,” he said.
The future of the race at Interlagos is already under a cloud, but Massa said the latest incidents are not evidence that F1 should end its association with Brazil.
“We race in Mexico, we’ve raced in India, and I don’t know if it’s any more dangerous than there, but it is a problem for the people in charge who need to give security for whoever is here. I love Brazil,” Massa insisted, “but at the moment I will not go back (to live).
“My son is studying in Monaco, he speaks three languages which is important for his future. Maybe in the future I would love to return to a better and safer country,” the veteran added.