Button: Every driver will have a police escort
23 November, 2011
Nov.22 (Reuters) The memory of last year’s armed attack outside the Brazilian Grand Prix circuit has not dimmed Jenson Button’s love of Interlagos as he prepares to return this weekend.
The Briton, who won the 2009 Formula One championship with Brawn GP in Sao Paulo, told reporters ahead of the season-ending race that he expected more security this time and was looking forward to going back.
“No, not at all,” the McLaren driver said when asked whether he had any concerns or fears.
“Something was going to happen. It happened so many times with the mechanics and engineers. In the end it was going to happen to a driver but I don’t think they wanted anything except for our bags out of the boot.
“But we have more security this year. I think every driver you see will have a police escort this year in Brazil, and they should do.
“But you also have to spare a thought for everyone else in Formula One because they don’t have police escorts.”
Button escaped unhurt from the attempted robbery on a busy road past a shanty town as he was being driven away from the nearby track after qualifying.
The Briton, who was with his father and manager, was sped away from danger by an armed policeman trained in avoidance techniques who was at the wheel of the bullet-proof Mercedes.
Teams are always on the watch for attempted armed attacks on members leaving the circuit after a number of incidents over the years despite a strong police presence.
A group of Sauber engineers were robbed at gunpoint shortly after Button’s incident.
Button will be looking to win this year’s race after McLaren team mate Lewis Hamilton triumphed at the penultimate race in Abu Dhabi to level their tallies at three wins each for the season. Hamilton also won his title at Interlagos in 2008.
“It’s such a good grand prix. I love racing at Sao Paulo,” said Button, who can finish second overall in a championship already won by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.
“There is a special atmosphere, even when your team-mate is Brazilian (Rubens Barrichello in 2009) and you are fighting for the world championship.
“I still love it there because they are so passionate, and there is so much history at that circuit. It’s a pity that things do happen there when we leave the circuit, but I think that just shows the divide in Brazil,” he added.
Button expected Vettel to come back strongly after suffering his first retirement of the year in Abu Dhabi while Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who won both his titles in Brazil, could never be counted out.
Felipe Massa will be on home soil in his 100th race for Ferrari while Red Bull’s Australian Mark Webber has one last chance to take a victory this year at the circuit where he won in 2009.
“There will be six of us really fighting it out,” said Button. “I’m excited about the challenge.”