Button escapes unhurt from armed attackers

SAO PAULO, (Reuters) – Formula One world champion  Jenson Button escaped unhurt after an attempted armed attack on  his car as he left the Brazilian Grand Prix circuit yesterday, his McLaren team said.

“On Saturday evening 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,” they said in a statement.

“Neither Jenson nor the other occupants of the car were  hurt,” it added.

McLaren said Button was quickly driven away from danger by  an armed policeman trained in avoidance techniques who was at  the wheel of the reinforced armoured vehicle provided by the  team.

“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.”

Button’s father John, his manager Richard Goddard and  physiotherapist Mike Collier were also in the car.

McLaren said the Sao Paulo authorities had acted  efficiently and would be providing additional security to  transfer Button and other senior team personnel to the circuit  for today’s penultimate race of the season.

Teams are always on the watch for attempted armed attacks  on members leaving the circuit after previous incidents over  the years despite a strong police presence.

Although the area around Interlagos has become more built  up over the years there are still favelas, or shanty towns, in  the vicinity while Sao Paulo is a sprawling city with one of  the highest crime rates in South America.

Members of the Toyota team were ambushed at gunpoint four  years ago as they left the circuit, with shots fired by a gang  of youths who also tried to kick in their car windows. None  suffered any injury.

Button had earlier qualified 11th on the starting grid,  with his four title rivals well ahead of him and his hopes of  retaining the title likely to be extinguished this  afternoon.

“Before, there was a slither of hope of retaining the  championship but now it’s gone, it’s basically impossible,” the  Briton had told reporters.

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