A Formula One test involving British team McLaren which was due to take place at Interlagos this week has been cancelled following a series of harrowing security incidents which overshadowed the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Eight members of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team suffered the most horrifying ordeal when they were robbed at gunpoint shortly after leaving the circuit on Friday night.
Staff from Formula One’s tyre supplier Pirelli were the latest to be targeted when they left the circuit on Sunday night. The crew managed to escape unharmed, but it marked the fifth alarming incident despite the promise of heightened security by local authorities.
Members from the Woking-based McLaren team and Pirelli were due to stay on in Sao Paulo for the remainder of the week. British teenager Lando Norris, who turned 18 on Monday, had flown to Sao Paulo to take part in the tyre test alongside Belgian’s Stoffel Vandoorne.
But the two-day test, scheduled to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, has now been scrapped after staff from McLaren and Pirelli understandably expressed their frustrations and unease over the apparent lack of security. Staff from the McLaren team were said to be relieved the test had been cancelled.
Pirelli confirmed the cancellation of the session and explained the reasons behind the decision with this statement.
Earlier in the week, a car containing officials from motor sport’s world governing body the FIA was approached by masked gunmen, while members of the Williams team witnessed the attack. Staff from Sauber were also held up as they left the circuit on Saturday.
All escaped unharmed, but the incidents will raise question marks over the future of a race which has been a permanent fixture on the calendar since 1990.
“We are extremely disappointed with the events of last week,” a Formula One spokesperson told Press Association Sport.
“In fact, disappointed is not even 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 liaising with the local authorities. We are actively involved, but we cannot be experts in every city we go to.
“We don’t want these things to happen. 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.
“I am sure the local authorities are taking it seriously. People leaving the circuit are exposed and it is obvious that they are at a disadvantage and that is something that needs to be addressed.”