Mclaren scrap test af­ter armed rob­bery

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Ashes - By Oliver Brown in Sao Paulo

Mclaren last night scrapped a sched­uled For­mula One test in Brazil af­ter staff at tyre man­u­fac­tur­ers Pirelli be­came the fifth vic­tims of an at­tempted armed rob­bery near Sao Paulo’s In­ter­la­gos cir­cuit.

Just 48 hours af­ter eight Mercedes team mem­bers were at­tacked at gun­point af­ter leav­ing the track, Pirelli’s of­fi­cial car was tar­geted upon leav­ing the track on Sun­day evening.

Sauber, Wil­liams and the FIA, the sport’s gov­ern­ing body, have also had their cars am­bushed, rais­ing ques­tions about the fu­ture vi­a­bil­ity of the Brazil­ian Grand Prix.

As Pirelli can­celled this week’s two-day test, due to fea­ture ris­ing Mclaren star Lando Nor­ris, the 18-year-old Bri­ton who had just ar­rived in Sao Paulo for his de­but in an F1 car, the man­u­fac­turer said: “The de­ci­sion, shared with Mclaren, the FIA and F1, was made in the in­ter­est of safety, both Mclaren’s and our own.” Mclaren con­firmed in a state­ment that that they deemed it an “un­nec­es­sary risk to pro­ceed”.

Mul­ti­ple se­cu­rity breaches have raised doubts about whether the race can con­tinue in Brazil, given the his­tory of vi­o­lent in­ci­dents around the track.

For­mer world cham­pion Jen­son But­ton, no­tably, was held up by armed mug­gers here in 2010.

Lib­erty Me­dia, F1’s own­ers, have con­spic­u­ously failed to is­sue any state­ment about the con­tro­versy, but they are un­der­stood to be ex­am­in­ing Brazil’s place on the grand prix cal­en­dar.

While In­ter­la­gos is due to stage its next grand prix in 2019, al­ter­na­tive venues, such as Buenos Aires or a street race in Rio de Janeiro, can­not be ruled out.

Re­flect­ing on the events of the past week, an F1 spokesper­son said: “Dis­ap­pointed is not a strong enough word. But is not our call, and it is not our re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“Se­cu­rity within the cir­cuit is up to the pro­moter, and they have to li­aise with the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

“We have our own se­cu­rity team that trav­els with us, and they were talk­ing to lo­cal po­lice. We have a year be­tween now and the next race to get it sorted, and we would be ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed if things have not been looked at.”

Stepped down: Bri­tish teenager Lando Nor­ris was due to make his de­but in an F1 car

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