SAO PAULO, Brazil -- A Mercedes minibus full of team members was robbed at gunpoint in Sao Paulo on Friday night after leaving the circuit following practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix.
A Mercedes spokesman confirmed nobody was injured in the incident and all team members returned safe to their hotel, but valuables were stolen from the minibus during the attack. The robbery occurred after the minibus had left the circuit at 22:00 and was en route to the team hotel.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton tweeted about the incident on Friday morning, calling for better security at the Brazilian Grand Prix in the future.
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 head. This is so upsetting to hear. Please say a prayer for my guys who are here as professionals today even if shaken.— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) November 11, 2017
This happens every single year here. F1 and the teams need to do more, there's no excuse!— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) November 11, 2017
An FIA statement issued on Saturday stated "last night there was a serious security issue outside the circuit involving teams and officials.
"The circuit has informed all of the events stakeholders that the Sao Paulo police force has taken additional measures after these regrettable incidents. Heavy police reinforcements will be on duty for the remainder of the event."
An additional statement from the Military Police of Sao Paulo confirmed it would increase its presence in the area, both during the day and at night.
"The military police will increase its numbers in the vicinity of the Autodromo de Interlagos and extend their working hours. One of the victims of the violence, the German team [Mercedes], will now use a full-time police escort. No one was injured in the incidents.
In 2010 former McLaren driver Jenson Button was also threatened at gunpoint as he left the circuit, but was able to escape unharmed. A Toyota team bus was also held up at the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix in a similar area of the city.