Button unharmed in attack

Brazilian Grand Prix

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Jenson Button, McLaren, Interlagos, 2010

McLaren say Jenson Button was unharmed in an attack on the car he was travelling in after leaving the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo on Saturday.

A statement released by the team said:

On Saturday evening (November 6) on the way back from the Interlagos circuit to Morumbi (Sao Paulo), armed would-be assailants made an attempt to approach the car that was carrying Jenson Button.

Neither Jenson nor the other occupants of the car were hurt. (The other occupants were John Button [Jenson’s father], Mike Collier [Jenson’s physio] and Richard Goddard [Jenson’s manager].)

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes had provided both Jenson and team-mate Lewis Hamilton with reinforced armoured vehicles driven by police drivers, who had been trained in avoidance techniques and were armed.

The police driver of Jenson’s vehicle reacted swiftly and, using avoidance techniques, rapidly forced his way through the traffic, taking Jenson and the other occupants of the car immediately away from any danger and back to their hotel.

The Sao Paulo authorities have also acted efficiently and will be providing additional security to transfer Jenson and other senior Vodafone McLaren Mercedes personnel to the Interlagos circuit for Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    87 comments on “Button unharmed in attack”

    1. this makes me ashamed to be a brazilian, but the situation here is truly dire. I hope the police catches said criminals.

      1. Sadly, there do seem to be a few cases like this at every Brazilian Grand Prix.

        1. Yep. For all the romantic visions people have of the country, it has a very dark underbelly. I was shocked they won the bid for the Olympics.

          1. That’s international sports committees for you. They award competitions to places that maybe aren’t 100% so they can posture about expanding the sport. Luckily for F1 you have enough people to be able to protect them fully and most foreign fans don’t have to travel if they fear the crime because they have GPs closer to home. I hope that doesn’t offend any Brazilians, we are very glad you have a GP in your country and that your home fans brave the same dangers every day to turn up.

          2. Maybe international sports bodies looked at South Africa (world champion armed robberies and murders) managing the Football World cup this year and are satisfied the Brazillians will manage as well.

          3. why?.

            I’d have been the same in the USA, with prospects of terrorism or whatever.

            Major sporting events like this always have problems. An armed robbery can happen everywhere.

        2. Its not about the drivers cause the robbers dont plan this kind of crimes they just await to strike very day on the same spot an reality on SP

          1. Thats true. As I mentioned earlier, I am in Brasil often and besides blabbering a lot, this is very common. I’ve found that it seems its not even newsworthy anymore. In Rio they don’t report the killings anymore, just te total number of casualties a day and in São Paulo they only report the number of armed robberies. I once saw it myself, at a traffic light the first car in the line – three men ran to the car, I heard a loud noise which seems was a gunshot, doors were pulled open, the severely injured man was being thrown out on the street, the men jumped in and drove away. They didn’t try to make him get out of the car, they shot first and then took him out. I must say I was never as happy to not be first in the line as I was that day. Oh and lucily the man from the car survived.

            This comment is not to put all Brazilians down, all those that I know are kind and very normal people (although a bit lazy .. but I’m german, so that doesn’t count I guess), but the amount of crimes is just way too high and nothing seems to work against it (maybe wealth would, but you can’t just plant wealth .. especially not if you elect morons as your president and then when things start to loo better give him all the credit even though he did nothing for it).

        3. Sadly, there do seem to be a few cases like this at every Brazilian Grand Prix.

          There are MANY cases like this EVERYDAY in Sao Paulo

      2. what about the law “Estatuto do torcedor” now
        instead of creating stupid laws brasil better starts investing more on security

        1. Security isn’t the real problem, it’s the fact Brazil has some of the world’s worst socioeconomic disparities, sustained by a corrupt political elite, that allows crime to flourish. Particularly in most of the big cities which seem to be run by the mentally insane.

          1. Yeap. Until countries with massive differences between the rich and the poor do something about that, crime is always going to be a problem. It’s not a matter of “getting tough” on crime, but a matter of taking away the need for people to commit crimes to survive.

            Maybe F1 as a whole needs to take a lead and give something back to the local communities that they visit. From everything you hear it seems very much like it’s just take take take by F1.

            1. Not really. I’m from Mumbai, and the socio economic and corruption situation is very similar to that of Brazil, and Sao Paulo in particular. Some of the richest and poorest people in the world live within one square kilometre of each other. The crime rate is pretty low in the city, and an incident such as this would probably never occur.

            2. Hear, hear, isn’t this turning into a propaganda forum for socialism? What shall Bernie & the rich say about that.

            3. Todfod, there’s a cultural and historical component too, that’s true – like the US, Brazil has a colonial history of violent frontiers, as well as slavery – but heavier crackdowns aren’t the solution in Brazil’s case. It’s not socialism to point out that the gulf between rich and poor is unjust. Pinball: I agree totally. Seems Hamilton at least has had time for visits to poor communities (youth groups) in Brazil at previous GPs, though it went unreported in the F1 media I think.

            4. This is a fallacy, famished people don’t made attacks using machine guns!The attacks are motivated by drugs, principally by the crack’s epidemy in Sao Paulo and other cities in Brazil and by a culture of impunity which reigns here. The reason for the high violence levels in Brazil is that the punishments for these criminals are very soft. The police arrests them but the magistrates put them out of the jail.

            5. Caio – too simplistic. Nobody is saying famished people commit crimes. But poverty means vulnerability and an environment for criminal (drugs) gangs to flourish as they can dominate the local population – if you live in Brazil, you obviously know that happens. And you also know that the people regularly let out of prison aren’t the drug gang members, but the corrupt politicians and business leaders – if they ever go to jail in the first place!

      3. I’ve been in Brazil this summer – in Rio de Janeiro and was actually planning to visit for this year’s race as well.

        With massive socioeconomic gap between the rich and poor within those big cities i.e. slums stand in the shadows of skyscrapers – violence/crime is inevitable. I’m not blaming the police – its a massive percentage of big city populations thats involved in such crime.

      4. Not to forget what happened to Fangio…

    2. This certainly wasn’t a story I was expecting. I wasn’t even aware thay anything like this went on. What a pitty.

    3. Wow, shades of 1958 when Fangio was kidnapped by Cuban Rebels!

      1. Fangio once got kidnapped by Cuban rebels?!?!

        What an incredible story!

        Does anyone know more on this?

        1. As far as I remember they idnapped him so he couldn’t take part in a race that was set up in Havana. The rebels just wanted to point out that it was a lie when Batista publicly declared that there were no rebels in Cuba. After the incident, Fangio reported that he was being treated very well, they didn’t want to harm him, just make a point.

        2. There was an article about it in F1 Racing a few years back, I think. Bananarama basically has all the details correct as far as I recall. Also worth noting that Fangio was released immediately after the race; the rebels weren’t after a ransom or anything like it, they were just making a political point. I believe Fangio even stayed in touch with some of his captors for years after the incident.

    4. :( Very sad and scary! The Sao Paulo authorities should provide extra security to all the drivers and ppl from the paddock as well.. The Force India guys were attacked and apparently some ppl from FOM and now JB & co. I hope they stop this and this is the last attack we hear about!

      1. Force India got attacked last year as well if I remember rightly… Twice is rather unlucky.

    5. I never like reading this sort of stuff anywhere. What a shame. But it is a reminder of just how dangerous that part of the world is. :(

      1. “That part of the world” is kinda too much… I think the greatest problems lie with the biggest cities in Brazil… I’m not saying that there isn’t crime elsewhere around here but I think there places much more dangerous than the whole of South America =P

        1. Well, one place that springs to mind with more criminalitz is: South Africa, the country organising this years football World cup.

          Well and let’s not forget about all parts of the world where warring factions, foreigners or the government fight for peace, enlightenment and the biggest piece of the cake!

          1. Sorry Guilherme Teixeira, I didn’t mean to stereotype. It’s just I have read a lot of books that detail the level of crime in the big cities of Brazil, particularly Rio. But Latin America is statistically one of the areas of the world with the highest crime rate – not saying everyone is a criminal, rather, the minority give the region a bad name. I was just stating how untimely this attack was, because the Brazilian Grand Prix isn’t normally that dangerous.

    6. It seems a minority are doing one hell of a job of costing Brazil its GP right now…

    7. Man, and that’s Sao Paulo – let’s be grateful Detroit and South Africa aren’t a part of the calendar right now…

      1. I dont think such a situation would happen in America quite frankly, not even in ‘Detroit’

        1. Crime rates in Detroid are twice Sao Paulo’s.

          1. Recorded crime rates, maybe. There is still of course, the question of what sort of crimes we’re talking about.

      2. You know, I don’t live all to far from Detroit and I agree with Sammy that it wouldn’t happen in the city at this time. For some reason I see the flashy Merc being off-putting to a would be mugger.

        Then again, I am not a criminal and I definitely would not want to be sitting in traffic in the wrong part of town in my car.

      3. I live right across detroit and I can guarantee you this would have never happened in Detroit

          1. Oh, I agree, it happens. Detroit has fallen a long way since it hosted previous GP’s (My first GP, for instance). Random events on a random day will happen, but at a big organized event, less so. The Tigers play 80 odd home games every year downtown without problem, the Lions play 8. Red Wing games go off without major crime as well. Sure there are some drunken fights and maybe some petty crime that happens anywhere, but the big crimes, especially on VIPs does not happen. The police presence at those events is very strong.

      4. I am South African and we don’t have such levels of crime. The media over there always exaggerates everything about South Africa. We hosted the World Cup over six weeks without one incident. Pls don’t compare us to Brazil. Something like that would never happen here.

        1. I lived in cape town for 2 years and I was mugged 3 times and saw two people get killed right infront of me (both stabbed – homeless on homeless crime. First guy I tried to help him for an hour, no ambulance ever arrived and he died. Second guy died within 10 minutes or so, his body was infront of the office for 6-7 hours until somebody picked him up)

          1. oh I should add that this was in 02-03, things have gotten better since in SA but mostly because they moved the problem on into rural areas.

            joburg was very very dangerous back then as well – I have so many friends that were robbed and friends of friends who had their homes invaded. one incident was a group of friends while watching the rugby had 10 men armed with ak-47s storm the club and strip everybody there of all their belongings and load it into a van. incident didn’t even make the papers

            1. Earlier in the year people were calling Australia a nanny state….. But I’m so happy right now to be here…

          2. also – SA could easily host an F1 race, as they did with the world cup, and for there to not be problems. I still love that country.

      5. south africa?? have u been to south africa recently? they pulled of a great world cup…no incidence of this sort at all.crime does happen in sa but the murders etc happen wer ppl are warned not to go…not in at every square kilometer like the worlds media make it out to be.if u ask for trouble in sa u will find it,if u dont u will be pretty safe.jus ask the hundreds of thousands of tourists that visited sa for the world cup.

    8. That’s crazy!

      In Montreal, I literally bumped into Jensen’s dad on a public street (closed to traffic for that weekend). He had one security guard with him and a handler, but the security had to leave to handle another situation. Guess you can’t do that elsewhere.

      1. I love Montreal. I went to the F1 race there 2 years ago (when Lewis rammed Kimi, I could see it from my seat). Obvious a totally different atmosphere than Brazil. How unfortunate.

    9. I bet this is Massa “helping” Alonso …

      1. LOL. I think Massa screwed up on this one as well, he planned an attack on the wrong Mclaren driver. Button is pretty harmless starting from 11th on the grid.

      2. Clockwork Kitty
        7th November 2010, 11:29

        If that’s a joke it ain’t funny

      3. PM you’re very insensitive…

    10. Very sad & glad that he is OK. This thing may raise a question for future GP in Brazil I hope things like this never happens again.

    11. if only they’d try to carjack him during the race tomorrow, the fright would make him drive faster and he might get on the podium….

      … well they said he’d need a miracle!

    12. Could have turned into a GTA or MW2 type moment, if it wasn’t for the driver, of course why were they driving past a favela in the first place?

      Mercedes is a popular vehicle for various heads of state and other celebrities, probably because of the specialty vehicle options.

      We complain that drivers are not accessible to the public but then we get situations like this, which then raises the issue of security, which in turn creates more inaccessibility and so on…

      1. MW2 – Mark Webber 2??

        I know he looks like Texas Pete, but really…

        1. MW2 = Modern Warfare 2…

          Strangely enough, Adam Cooper reported that they were in a Merc B-class, I didn’t know that the B-class engine was strong enough to handle the added weight of armour…

          1. MW2 is in Rio, in the vertical Favelas that we have here. but yeah, who knows what could have happened if they weren´t prepared…

    13. These are the moments that I’m ashamed of being Brazilian.

      1. Please don’t be ashamed of being Brazilian Alex. This is an opportunity for you and all good and true Brazilians to be great representatives of your nation. To stand up in the face of fear and demand the change that can make all Brazilians and all people proud.

    14. I must add to this shameful chorus going on in this article:

      That is why I’m ashamed to be a Brazilian!

      Forget about the “socioeconomical disparity” argument, this is just a political way to put it. It is a way to mask what the real problem is. Saying it is ‘socioeconomical disparity’ just puts the blame on the rich few that hold all the money in this country, while automatically assuming that most people that lives on slums are bandits – BS, that’s not the truth. Let’s put it clear: only those who want to be bandits become bandits. And you know why they want to become bandits? Because their conditions lead them to, BUT that wouldn’t happen if these people had a single drop of education. If only these people had been educated properly when they were kids, they couldn’t be mugging people or stealing cars. Everyone knows that education in this country sucks terribly, and you know why? Because our politicians don’t give a damn about it. They are the real reason security in this country is a chaos. You need fewer policeman when your population is properly educated – here in Brazil, well, I don’t think the entire army could put up against these criminals!

      So, who’s at fault here? The “socioeconomical disparity” or the politicians who don’t give a damn about what really matters?


      I’m sorry if comment/rant was about politics rather F1, but this makes me so sad and angry. It ruins our image, it threatens our already endangered Grand Prix and just fuel this vision of how chaothic and dangerous Brazil is. And, of course, makes me wish my State had actually won Farroupilha Revolution

      1. I completely agree with your argument. The socio economic disparity exists in a lot of other places in the world, but the education and hope of a better life for the poor, keeps a lot of them away from crime.

      2. Guilherme and Todfod, socioeconomic disparities are causes of tension and violence when the population (economy) as a whole is both individualist and consumerist, which is the case of urban Brazil. Sure there are countries where these huge economic differences don’t lead to as much violence but that’s not Brazil’s case. Education is needed Guilherme – so too basic sanitation, water, healthcare, formal jobs with minimum wages… I started this discussion off because the idea that ‘security’ should be ramped up because the hugely wealthy Formula 1 community is arriving in town for a few days actually shames me much more than the crime. After all São Paulo’s population (mostly poor) has to put with this crime everyday. F1 lives in a big enough bubble as it is.

        1. Incredibly well said David, I’d say comment of the day if I had any say in it!

      3. “only those who want to be bandits become bandits.”

        If nothing else, I have learnt that people are products of their environments. It’s all well and good to say one chooses to be a bandit, But if you grew in different circumstances, you would be a very different person, and maybe even a bandit.

    15. yup, crazy indeed…

      i thought these kind of things only happen in movies! need to scrutinize my f1 travel plans for next year hahaha…

      anyway, why button?

      1. anyway, why button?

        I think they didn’t know Button was inside the car. Probably they just went for that shiny Mercedes (or whatever they were drivnig) stopped at the ligths…

        1. Yes, it was a Mercedes (an armored specialty version usually used by heads of state) they were in…

          Probably could have handled the typical homemade guns and stolen rifles the gunmen had, but if I was the driver, I’d prefer to rely on the engine to get out of the problem…

    16. Richard Goddard : ‘5 guys, there was a guy with a plank of wood, another with a baseball bat, and one had a gun that I didn’t see but was told about.

      Jenson Button (shortly after the attack): ‘6 guys, all carrying machine guns’
      Jenson Button (shortly after the attack + 10 mins): ’11 guys, all carrying machine guns, face masks, and one may have had an RPG’
      Jenson Button (shortly after the attack + 17 mins): ’17 guys, all carrying RPG’s, and a nuclear submarine!’
      Jenson Button (shortly after the attack + 23 mins): ‘A herd of Elephants, all carrying whales, eating some RPGs!!’
      Jenson Button (shortly after the attack + 27 mins): ‘I didn’t see anything, I was drinking tea….’

      The guys wanted to steal the car, failing that, smash the windows and lights, wreck the body panels, beep the horn… But they didn’t realise it was Jenson Button! As such they didn’t damage the wheels due to his almost supernatural ability to look after the tyres.

      1. For the sake of the sanity of society as a whole, please, do not ever become a comedian.

        1. Not a lot of sleep and a very busy weekend schedule involving lots of tickets and journeys to stadiums can do this to you….

          …you have been warned, from the other side!!

      2. LOL, what kind of drugs are you taking??

    17. I heard they thought about hitting Hamilton’s car first, but it was much faster than Button’s.

      1. Actually they came to steal Button’s grip and championship chances. They left with nothing.

    18. Glad to hear everyone’s okay.

    19. A few years ago Minardi had some tyres stolen if I remember correctly. Every GP held in Brazil seems to suffer from these type of stories unfortunately.

      A similar situation also exists at the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit in Mexico. When Nascar held a race there, drivers and team members said they could hear distant gun shots, a result of gang activity.

    20. Was it specifically Jenson that the yobs went for? Afterall he did have spats last year with their beloved Rubens, eg after the Spanish GP that would have wound up the Brazilians.

      Or perhaps there was Vodafone Mclaren Mercedes branding on the car and they thought it was Lewis, they don’t really like him after ‘stealing Massa’s title’ ‘after Glock threw in the towel.’ ;) remember when the website was trying to make Hamilon get a puncture because users were putting porcupines and nails on a map of Interlagos circuit :/

      Oh and don’t worry about Brazil hosting the Olympics, The 2012 games are being hosted in Stratford, part of London with a bit of a ‘rough’ reputation!!

      1. I know you’re a McLaren fan but good god you are reading way to much into this.

        The cars they are driving to the circuit in Brazil are beefed up security wise, why on earth would they then go and put team branding on it? They are trying to avoid being identified.

        To suggest this was specifically against the Jenson or that they really wanted to get Hamilton is just ridiculous. Where they travel through is a very poor part of Brazil. F1 is in town, F1 equals money and expensive things that can be exchanged for money. Its just a sad fact in life that money does buy a considerable amount of happiness.

      2. neh, the robbers probably don´t know much about F-1. If it were Alonso, or even Massa, they would have done the exact same thing.

    21. wong chin kong
      7th November 2010, 14:10

      It was quite a shock and disappoinment such things happen to F1 drivers and latest news was Sauber engineers were robbed. What will be the damage to F1 reputation and also the championship title if one of the key contenders to the WDC is injured by these robbers? Jean Todt should review the scheduling of the Brazilian GP and I suggest he put this GP at the beginning of the season instead of 2nd last.

    22. And I have birthday tdy :)

    23. Jraybay-HamiltonMclarenfan
      7th November 2010, 14:50

      A friend of mine was mugged last year, I thought he was joking because I thought Brazil was nice but it seems this area is a little rough, it’s a urban area not like I thought, my fault : D .

    24. Q&A with Button

      We angled the car and floored it. It didn’t look like there was a big enough space there, but we got between six cars – and rammed every single one to get past. Just like how Vettel attempts an overtake.

    25. Well he is ok to race another day hopefuly if one of the brits dont get world championship perhaps they will get team champ in last race of 2010 good luck boys .

      1. That bird’s already flown I’m afraid.

    26. AshamedBrasilian
      7th November 2010, 21:41

      These guys should not be driven on the streets. They should of been flown in helicopters.

      Interlagos has a massive helicopter area!

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