Pirelli and McLaren cancel Interlagos test over security fears

2017 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Pirelli and McLaren have abandoned plans to conduct a two-day tyre test at Interlagos this week due to further security concerns at the Brazilian track.

Formula One’s official tyre supplier confirmed the cancellation of the test after members of their staff were subjected to a robbery attempt yesterday.

“Following a robbery attempt, neutralised by Pirelli security, on a Pirelli van at the Interlagos circuit last Sunday – after a weekend where similar episodes occurred with other teams – it has been decided to cancel the tyre test planned on Tuesday and Wednesday on the Brazilian circuit with McLaren.”

“The decision, shared with McLaren, FIA and Formula One was made in the interest of the safety of the personnel, both McLaren’s and our own, who would have participated in the test.”

Staff from Mercedes, Sauber, Williams and the FIA also encountered muggings or attempted muggings at gunpoint during the course of the race weekend. Robberies have been a problem at Interlagos for years but the threat to Formula One staff escalated at last weekend’s event.

The most serious incident occurred on Friday evening. Members of the Mercedes team were forced to surrender their valuable after armed thieves entered a team vehicle and pointed guns at their heads.

On Saturday the FIA issued a statement in response to the “serious security issue” and promised to increase protection at the track.

“The circuit has informed all of the events stakeholders that the Sao Paulo police force has taken additional measures after these regrettable incident,” it said. “Heavy police reinforcements will be on duty for the remainder of the event.”

“We would still like to remind everyone to take appropriate precautions when travelling to and from the circuit, and in particular in the immediate environs of the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace.”

“In order to minimise risk we would strongly advise that you remove car park passes when exiting the circuit and only reapply them when close to the circuit entry gate. It is also advisable to remove paddock passes and, if possible, to change any clothing with outlet-oriented branding (such as TV networks) before exiting the circuit.”

McLaren announced it had “jointly decided with Pirelli to cancel this week’s tyre test at Interlagos.”

“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.”

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    Keith Collantine
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    38 comments on “Pirelli and McLaren cancel Interlagos test over security fears”

    1. Understandable, but the future of Interlagos is already looking shaky. Let’s hope this doesn’t seal its fate.

    2. Nobody’s safety should be at risk while doing their job and I completely support this decision. It’s been going on for years at Interlagos and never seems to get any better.

    3. I’d also seen a tweet from Ruth Buscombe about their vehicle also being attacked (but they got away).

      As much as I’d hate to lose the Brazilian GP, if it comes to that, I’d prefer losing the GP to having staff risk life and limb. I’m sure the families of the staff are not thrilled at the prospect of their near ones having to go to such GPs with what amounts to a target on their backs.

      1. I prefer thrilling car chases on the track, or on the silver screen. Not by criminals chasing victims.

        1. Pedro Lopes Garcia
          13th November 2017, 16:26

          I’m Brazilian and even I stay way from the interlagos neighborhood.

          1. What’s more strange – so many assaults this weekend, yet not a single comment from Brazilian president…

            1. Well, as a Brazilian I think the Brazilian presidents commonly aren’t interested in issues such as violence and critical stuff like that. Maybe he/she’d get more interested if it were necessary to build new stuff in order to get some money from that just as it happened in World Cup or Olympiads. Wait… it has been said that another city named Florianopolis has plans to build a new circuit to replace Interlagos… Oh, gosh…

            2. Max R. I see plenty of opportunity to make a good buck with a construction of a new circuit. If you’re a Brazilian politician, I suggest you get right on that!

            3. As latest rumors says – local police captain is a part of criminal group and roofing those assaults.

    4. Bernie spends a lot of time in Brazil, owns a ranch there with his Brazilian wife. I assume he has the equivalent of a military platoon for his personal security, including armored personnel carriers with mounted 50 caliber machine guns.

      1. Mrs Brady, Old Lady
        13th November 2017, 17:14

        And even he had his mother-in-law kidnapped. Although…

    5. We are being forced to accept this monstrosity of a halo. Safety reasons they say, while F1 has seen one driver killed in the last 20 years and the monstrosity would not have saved his life.

      Meanwhile, team personnel have been risking their lives for many years at this venue, to the point where they’ve been held at gunpoint numerous times. Yet, nothing is being done to protect their lives.. ordinary men are allowed to get killed any day of the week. As long as the stars of the show are safe, right? Scary fact though is that even JB was held at gunpoint a few years ago..

      If F1 had safety as high up on the agenda as they claim they do, they would have cancelled their contract with Sao Paulo yesterday. It would possibly save many more lives than the halo ever would.

      1. Well said. Sadly it will take one of those guns to go off before anything is done.

      2. Mrs Brady, Old Lady
        13th November 2017, 17:24

        Guns don’t kill people – but what they do do is make it very easy for an amateur, who would not have the strength or the courage to make the attempt if he didn’t have a gun, to hide behind cover and kill people from a distance, without the risk of losing the fight. And up close, reaching for your own gun to defend yourself, when an attacker already has his gun loaded and pointed at your face, has only one possible outcome. So let’s not bother with the inevitable “guns don’t kill people; people kill people” line – it’s nothing but an attempt at deception designed to increase sales, pedalled to the gullible by gun manufacturers and their industry association.

      3. From next year all transport vehicles at Interlagos will be fitted with the halo so nobody will be in danger.

      4. @spafrancorchamps

        We are being forced to accept this monstrosity of a halo. Safety reasons they say, while F1 has seen one driver killed in the last 20 years and the monstrosity would not have saved his life.

        The Halo would have also likely protected Maria De Vilotta from the injuries she suffered that were also a contributing factor to her death a year later so there is a case to be made that 2 drivers have died as a result of injuries caused in accidents in F1 cars over the past 23 years.

        1. …. and 1 would likely have been saved by the halo.

          also because ‘only’ 2 drivers have died in f1 cars the last 20 years do we end all pursuits of safety improvements?

          Afterall back in 1994 no driver had died in an f1 car for nearly a decade & the fact that drivers had survived serious accidents over that near decade had many at the time saying that f1 was safe enough….. Then Imola happened & everyone got the wake up call that pushed safety standards forward.

          Safety cannot stand still, If there is an area that can be improved then you must act because if you don’t & we have a fatality that could have been prevented then you just look silly for not taking actions you know could have prevented it (go back and look at what happened after imola 1994 & how much f1 got dragged through the mud for not doing enough & the legal mess with the trials in italy that dragged on for years & dragged innocent people through the mud for no real reason).

      5. Cancelling the contract would have required Liberty to be able to show that the race organisers (and only the race organisers, as distinct from the city, the police, the criminals or anyone else) failed in their contractual responsibilities. Now, if less security was provided than promised, that could happen. However, crime in and of itself is not something that can generally be treated as a contract-breaker, unless the crime was committed by one of the people who signed the contract.

        Now, if the problem isn’t resolved by the approach to next year’s event, the FIA or the circuit organisers could declare force majeure and can that year’s running of the race through frustration. Liberty can also use this as grounds to refuse an extension to the deal (currently due to end in 2020). There’s quite a difference, however, between those perfectly permissible actions, and unilaterally pulling out of a contract without the necessary legal justification. Also, thanks to the FIA’s decision to go ahead with Bahrain 2012 despite at least two attacks against team vehicles, Brazil may very well be able to get compensation for losing the race even if force majuere (though not the 2020-non-extension route) is used.

    6. It’s a shame that a whole race event can be dropped because of a dozen of thugs that could be easily dealt with by autorities.

      1. If they were “easily dealt” with, we wouldn’t be hearing about this every year.

        I’m sure F1 journalists have a stash of ready to go Brazilian GP headlines… something about Senna, something about crucial title chances, something about armed robberies.

        1. It’s not so hard to have policies all over the place, is the way to make a big event in any country.

    7. This is the kind of future we have to look forward to globally, if the gap between the rich and poor continues to widen the way it has for the past few decades.

      If you wanna know how absurd it’s becoming, here’s a piece of a cold-hard fact for you:
      The 3 richest persons in the US, have more money than the bottom 50% of the US population combined.

      We are probably heading towards another revolution, in the true sense of the word, the bloody one, like the French revolution. Except it will be much bloodier and probably 100% global.

      1. Michael Brown (@)
        13th November 2017, 19:58

        I’m not concerned about an uprising by NEETs

        1. Most of the bottom 50% of the US population do not meet the NEET criteria (to wit: the majority of them are over 24, most of them are in low-paid work, many of them have education and/or training).

      2. “if the gap between the rich and poor continues to widen”
        Nah. There’s no crime in China. It’s culture.

        1. a culture driven by elitism with deep roots in politics

      3. As a Brazilian, I can say it’s not only the gap. Before this deep recession that hit us in 2014 and effectively made us go back to 2010, GDP-wise, we had a great improvement in living standards for the poorest from 2003-2012.

        Latin America’s urban violence problem is a mix of internal (not external) inequalitiy, a mass consumption culture, a failed drug war that floods the countries with illegal weapons and a failed criminal system that punishes harshly some of the poor for petty theft and drug dealing and is unable to tackle the most serious offenses, such as murder.

        Despite all these economic developments since 1994, when Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s Plano Real ended hyperinflation, we keep an intolerably high but stable crime rate since the early 1990’s. São Paulo state, in fact, is less violent now than it was 20 years ago, so it’s much more nuanced than global inequality

    8. According to some reports and twitter some teams had problems after the ‘increase’ in police!

    9. Multi-Billion dollar sport with multi million/billion dollar teams. You’d think they would be able to provide their own private armed security with assault rifles at this race to escort their team’s members to and from the track.

    10. I read that the F1 top brass (Carey, et al.) where provided with a different exit route that didn’t go through the dangerous favelas. Pretty damning if all the other track personnel weren’t given that option.

    11. The reputation of this famed racing facility is now short lived. Sorry Brazil but you are about to lose your date on the calendar. These low life scum bags who use the race weekend to assault and rob total innocents should be vaporized…..slowly.

      Cant have the low lifes continue to do this. Either the Sao Paulo police step up and solve this or Liberty should yank this event from the schedule by weeks end.

      The actions of these scum bags ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE

    12. São Paulo is a huge city and very dangerous, compared to the villages and towns that host the majority of grand prix in recent times.
      Interlagos shoud be dropped in favour of a circuit on a smaller town.

      But knowing how things are run in Brazil, it’s not happening. They destroyed the track at Rio to build the venues for the Olympics, and these venues are now falling apart, nobody uses them cuz the city asks too much to held everything there.

      No drivers, and soon, no Grand Prix.

      1. Athletics doesn’t have a good shelf life for making money. Four years is about the minimum time period they can get away with fleecing the sports fan with the olympics.
        F1 however has been getting away with fleecing the fans at least once per month.
        We now have both drivers and fans unhappy about the rules and direction, yet still the owners pander to the $manufacturers

    13. Colin NotMcRae
      14th November 2017, 0:09

      How come Mexico, which has far more violent crime, is able to secure its grand prix while comparatively more secure Brazil cannot? That race should be moved to Argentina if possible, or Uruguay.

      1. Brazil’s government apparently has more problems with balancing budget in general than Mexico, though if so it isn’t clear why.

      2. Fikri Harish (@)
        14th November 2017, 5:10

        It’s also about the location of the track.
        Interlagos is surrounded by slums while the Mexico Circuit is located within a sports complex not unlike Sochi.

    14. So we hear reports about teams’ and FIA personnel being robbed. Are the criminals this selective? Is this some sort of Robbin Hood situation? Were no visitors robbed at all? FIA speaks of protecting personnel, but what about the fans? Are they protected when traveling to and from the track?

    15. Billionaires & millionaires with their entourage of 1000’s, go and play with their toys. Slap bang in the middle of one of the most deprived areas of the South Americas, if not the world.

      And they are surprised by the outcome?

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