Mclaren scrap test after armed robbery
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