F1 bosses urge Interlagos to address Brazilian GP security concerns

Formula One bosses say they cannot be held responsible for the security failings which dogged the Brazilian Grand Prix and have urged chiefs of the Interlagos circuit to find a solution to the issue in time for the 2018 race.

A series of attacks on F1 staff took place during the visit to Sao Paulo, with a minibus carrying Mercedes personnel robbed at gunpoint on Friday evening. Williams and Sauber staff also found themselves in threatening situations over the weekend, while a car carrying FIA officials was attacked when leaving the circuit.

Another incident, an attempted robbery of Pirelli staff on Sunday evening, prompted F1's tyre manufacturer and McLaren to cancel a two-day test scheduled to take place at Interlagos this week due to fears over safety. F1 believes the onus has to be circuit bosses to work with local authorities to ensure safety to people attending the race.

"We are extremely disappointed with the events of last week," an F1 spokesperson told Press Association Sport. "In fact, disappointed is not even a strong enough word.

"But is not our call, and it is not our responsibility. Security within the circuit is up to the promoter, and they have to liaise with the local authorities. We have our own security team that travels with us, and they were liaising with the local authorities. We are actively involved, but we cannot be experts in every city we go to."

The Interlagos circuit has become a popular venue on the calendar since joining in 1990 but has a history of similar incidents. In 2010, the reigning world champion Jenson Button was held at gunpoint when he left the circuit, but escaped unharmed. A Toyota team bus was also held up during the 2007 race in a similar area of the city.

F1 wants to see the issue be given top priority between now and the return race next year.

"We don't want these things to happen," the spokesperson continued. "We have a year between now and the next race to get it sorted, and we would be extremely disappointed if things have not been looked at. I am sure the local authorities are taking it seriously. People leaving the circuit are exposed and it is obvious that they are at a disadvantage and that is something that needs to be addressed."

The issue of safety was raised on numerous occasions during the weekend due to the initial spate of attacks, with new world champion Lewis Hamilton calling on F1 to do more to ensure the safety of everyone working in the paddock. Most alarmingly, the Pirelli incident occurred despite assurances from Sao Paulo police that it had heightened security around the circuit in response to the incident involving Mercedes team members.

Interlagos is currently undergoing the process of being sold to guarantee its future on the F1 calendar. The city-owned circuit is currently in discussions with three interested parties and it is hoped the investment that will come with any sale will help strengthen security.

"Remember that the privatisation of the racetrack will contribute to this [public safety]," mayor Joao Doria said, before the events of Sunday evening. "So we will have security systems not only in the internal area, but also in the external area of the racetrack.

"It's sad, it's unfortunate, fortunately anybody wasn't hurt. What we need is to learn a lesson from this for upcoming events."

Sao Paulo officials are hopeful the circuit will have secured new ownership by the first half of 2018.