SAO PAULO – Armed individuals robbed staff members of the Mercedes racing team as they were leaving the Brazilian Grand Prix circuit, British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton said on Saturday.
Hamilton, who has already secured his fourth world title with two races to go, urged authorities to improve security as this was not the first incident at the Jose Carlos Pace Autodrome.
“Some of my team were held up at gun point last night leaving the circuit here in Brazil. Gun shots fired, gun held at ones (sic) head,” Hamilton wrote on Twitter. “This is so upsetting to hear. Please say a prayer for my guys who are here as professionals today even if shaken.”
“This happens every single year here. F1 and the teams need to do more, there’s no excuse!” he added.
Mercedes Head of Media Relations Felix Siggemann confirmed the incident to EFE, adding that the staff members were robbed while taking a minibus out of the circuit.
Despite losing valuables, Siggeman stressed that the most important thing was that no one was injured.
Earlier, thieves had failed to rob an armored car belonging to the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, as the driver managed to escape, FIA spokesman Matteo Bonciani confirmed to EFE.
Bonciani, who was inside the vehicle during the incident, said that an armed group with two pistols attempted to break the car’s glass without shooting, but the car escaped thanks to the driver’s quick reaction.
Brazil registered more than 61,600 homicides in 2016, with an average of seven people killed per hour.