F1 News, Views and Reviews

Jenson Button Attacked By Armed Robbers In Brazil

Jenson Button has escaped injury after his car was attacked by armed men while he was leaving the Interlagos circuit in Brazil last night.  Some of the assailants were said to be carrying machine guns and baseball bats.

Button, the current reigning F1 world champion was travelling in an armoured Mercedes Benz with his father, personal trainer and manager when a group of men began to assault the vehicle.

Fortunately, the police trained driver managed to escape and all parties were unjnjured in the attack, if perhaps a little shaken.

A statement released by McLaren said: “On Saturday evening on the way back from the Interlagos circuit to Morumbi, armed would-be assailants made an attempt to approach the car that was carrying Jenson Button.

“Neither Jenson nor the other occupants of the car were hurt.

“Vodafone McLaren Mercedes had provided both Jenson and team-mate Lewis Hamilton with reinforced armoured vehicles driven by police drivers, who had been trained in avoidance techniques and were armed.

“The police driver of Jenson’s vehicle reacted swiftly and, using avoidance techniques, rapidly forced his way through the traffic, taking Jenson and the other occupants of the car immediately away from any danger and back to their hotel.”

Jenson Button later praised his driver as a “legend”.

Button’s manager, Richard Goodard who was also in the Mercedes said “We were about three or four minutes away from the circuit when the incident took place.

“I would suggest there were more than four or five guys, something along those lines, who emerged from a block of flats.

“I initially saw one guy carrying this piece of wood, a baseball bat kind of thing, but I didn’t spot the one who had a gun until someone pointed it out.  It was pulled, and that was it really. You didn’t really have time to think about what was happening.”

Armed incidents have become regular around race weekend in Brazil, but this is the first time in recent years an actual Formula One driver has been involved.  A couple of years ago, mechanics for the Toyota F1 team were targetted by armed robbers.  Murray Walker too has been attacked, and even national footballing hero Pele has been robbed at gunpoint.

Murray Walker told BBC “There are parts of Sao Paulo which are extremely violent, and [the city] has extremes of great wealth and extreme poverty.”

“I suspect that’s where it happened to Jenson, and naturally the people who are in the favelas see these obviously very wealthy people driving away from the circuit and they know they’ve got a lot of money, and they know they’ve got watches and things on them and that’s what they’re after presumably.”

McLaren have said they will be stepping up security even further as a result of the incident.


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