Brazilian Grand Prix organisers have arranged for ‘heavy police reinforcements’ around the Interlagos track following the armed robbery against Mercedes team members on Friday night.
A minibus carrying Mercedes personnel was held up at gunpoint after leaving the track, as robbers stole valuables in a frightening moment for those involved. Luckily no-one was injured in the incident.
With members of Williams, and officials from the FIA, also experiencing close calls as armed robbers targeted F1 personnel, the issue of safety became a big talking point on qualifying day. Lewis Hamilton tweeted that he believed F1 needed to do more to protect working staff.
In response to the situation, extra security has been arranged to help protect the public around the Interlagos circuit.
A statement issued by the FIA said: “The circuit has informed all of the events stakeholders that the Sao Paulo police force has taken additional measures after these regrettable incident.
“Heavy police reinforcements will be on duty for the remainder of the event.”
F1 personnel have also been advised to remove passes and change out of team uniform to prevent being singled out by criminals for attack.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said that teams should not have to face such tough situations – nor need to sort the kind of extra precautions that have now become common for Brazil.
“We shouldn’t be needing armed vehicles, bulletproof cars, agents in order to make it safe from the race track to the hotel,” he said.
“But then this is the circumstances and maybe our approach in the past was a bit lenient; easy, because Brazil is a cool country. But it must have been a really scary moment for the guys.
“We all left just about at the same time at 10 o’clock, and being stopped and having a gun pointed at you must be awful. In so far, they’ve ramped the security up since this morning.
“When we came to the circuit it looked like civil war broke out – so many police officers were on the track. Let’s see what happens tonight, but it shouldn’t happen.”