SAO PAULO (AFP) – McLaren and Pirelli have cancelled tests scheduled for Tuesday (Nov 14) and Wednesday (Nov 15) in the wake of a series of attempted armed robberies against Formula One teams at Sao Paulo this weekend.
Team members of Mercedes, Williams and Sauber were either robbed at gunpoint or had close escapes over the Grand Prix weekend.
McLaren said they felt the risk to staff was not worth running the testing after Mercedes team members had been left shaken after having guns held to their heads.
“We have jointly decided with Pirelli to cancel this week’s tyre test at Interlagos,” McLaren said on Twitter. “The safety of our people has always been our top priority, and, given recent events, we felt that it was an unnecessary risk to proceed.”
World champion Lewis Hamilton on Saturday (Nov 12) called on governing body the FIA to do more.
“Some of my team were held up at gun point last night leaving the circuit here in Brazil. Gun shots fired, gun held at one’s head. This is so upsetting to hear,” the Briton wrote on Twitter. “This happens every single year here. F1 and the teams need to do more, there’s no excuse!”
Hamilton’s Mercedes team hinted they might review their Interlagos position.
“We train our personnel in case incidents like this occur. But as last night has shown, there is even more we can do – as a team and as a sport,” Mercedes said.
Members of the Williams team and officials of the FIA were also targeted, British media reported on Saturday.
The future of the Interlagos race after 2020 is under greater scrutiny than ever with the circuit on sale and the sport’s only Brazilian driver Felipe Massa retiring at the end of the season.
Former world champion Jenson Button was the victim of an attempted armed robbery in 2010 and hold-ups are a known risk for teams in Sao Paulo, with drivers travelling to and from their hotels with police escorts and in cars with bulletproof protection.