Mercedes team mem­bers robbed at gun­point in Brazil

Sunday Tribune - - NEWS&VIEWS - ALAN BALD­WIN

SAO PAULO: Lewis Hamil­ton has urged For­mula One to im­prove se­cu­rity af­ter armed rob­bers held up mem­bers of his Mercedes team out­side the Brazil­ian Grand Prix cir­cuit.

“Some of my team were held up at gun­point last night leav­ing the cir­cuit here in Brazil. Gun­shots fired, gun held at one’s head. This is so up­set­ting to hear,” the four-times world cham­pion said on Twit­ter on yes­ter­day. “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.”

A team spokesman con­firmed that valu­ables were stolen but no­body was in­jured in the in­ci­dent.

Hold-ups are a known risk for teams in Sao Paulo and around the In­ter­la­gos cir­cuit, with driv­ers trav­el­ling to and from their ho­tels with po­lice es­corts and in cars with bul­let­proof pro­tec­tion.

Bri­tain’s Jen­son But­ton was the vic­tim of an at­tempted rob­bery in 2010, the year af­ter he won the ti­tle with Brawn GP, but the po­lice driver smashed his way through traf­fic to es­cape when the gun­men were seen ap­proach­ing.

Mechanics and other staff travel to and from the track by minibus and are ad­vised against wear­ing branded team cloth­ing away from the cir­cuit.

A Mercedes team mem­ber was also robbed at gun­point in Mex­ico last year.

Mean­while, Re­nault and Red Bull moved to calm tem­pers af­ter a row be­tween the French man­u­fac­turer and the Toro Rosso team boiled over at the Brazil­ian Grand Prix yes­ter­day. The pub­lic war of words at In­ter­la­gos had raised fears that Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso could be left with­out en­gines for F1’s sea­son-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix later this month.

Toro Rosso were stung by com­ments from Re­nault F1 boss Cyril Abite­boul, with the French­man won­der­ing whether their spate of re­cent en­gine prob­lems had some­thing to do with how the team used the power units.

The team an­grily re­jected that and hinted there might be a con­nec­tion to the in­tense bat­tle with the Re­nault works out­fit for sixth place.

Re­tired four-times world cham­pion Alain Prost, spe­cial ad­vi­sor to Re­nault, quashed sug­ges­tions of un­der­hand tac­tics: “We would never play any dirty game to get one po­si­tion,” he told Sky Sports. – Reuters

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