Formula One: Mercedes team members robbed at gunpoint in Brazil, none hurt

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Armed robbers held up a Mercedes Formula One team minibus outside the Brazilian Grand Prix circuit in Sao Paulo on Friday night but nobody was hurt, a spokesman said.

“We can confirm that a team minibus was robbed at gunpoint last night leaving the circuit,” he said. “Valuables were stolen but most importantly everybody is safe and uninjured.” Hold-ups are a known risk for teams in Sao Paulo and around the Interlagos circuit, with drivers travelling to and from their hotels with police escorts and in cars with bulletproof protection. Britain’s Jenson Button was the victim of an attempted robbery in 2010, the year after he won the title with Brawn GP, but the police driver smashed his way through traffic to escape when the gunmen were seen approaching.

Mechanics and other staff travel to and from the track by minibus and are advised against wearing branded team clothing away from the circuit. A Mercedes team member was also robbed at gunpoint in Mexico last year while travelling by car from the airport to his hotel. Mercedes have won both of this year’s championships for the fourth year in a row with Lewis Hamilton arriving in Brazil as a four-times world champion.Sunday’s race is the penultimate round of the season.

Boltas takes pole:

Valtteri Bottas took pole position for the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix on Saturday after Mercedes team mate and newly-crowned four-times world champion Lewis Hamilton crashed without setting a lap time. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel will join the Finn on the front row of the starting grid with his Finnish team mate Kimi Raikkonen third and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen fourth.

Hamilton, who clinched his fourth world championship in Mexico two weeks ago, had been hoping for a 12th pole of the season but spun into the barrier at turn seven in the opening session. It looked a simple mistake by Britain’s most successful racing driver of all time, and last year’s winner from pole at Interlagos. Hamilton will now have to fight back through the field for the second race in a row.

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