Whether it’s the World Cup, the Olympics or Formula 1, when a high-profile sports event comes to Brazil, there is a high risk of crime among tourists and the people involved. Many take precautions but that still doesn’t seem to stop some of the rampant crime rates in certain areas of the country.

Formula 1 is no different and as the series is at the Interlagos Circuit in Sao Paulo this weekend, a bus containing members of the Constructor Championship winning Mercedes team was attacked by local criminals as it was leaving the track. The crew members were robbed at gunpoint as the robbers stole what they could get. The robbers got away with money and other valuables but nobody was hurt.

World Champion Lewis Hamilton took to Twitter to express his disgust at what happened and criticized officials for this happening time and time again.

Hamilton isn’t wrong, this has happened before in Brazil. In 2010, three men with machine guns tried to rob World Champion Jenson Button as he was trying to get back to his hotel but were unable to after his driver, a police officer, sensed what was going on and sped away before they had a chance to get to the bulletproof car. A few years before that, members of the Toyota team as well as legendary broadcaster Murray Walker also reported attempted robberies in the Sao Paulo area on race weekend.

Most recently, a gunman tapped his weapon on the glass of a bulletproof car which contained members of the FIA governing body as well as the Williams team behind them, but all were able to get away. And it’s not exclusive to Brazil as a Mercedes crew member was robbed in Mexico City during their race weekend last year.

Precautions are being taken to help keep robberies from happening. When the Mercedes bus was robbed, they were directed to not have any markings on the bus or wear any clothing that indicated they were on a Formula 1 team or were involved with the sport. Even so, it still happens so what is Formula 1 or track officials to do to prevent this from happening.

There’s probably three scenarios that could be done to help lower the chance of being robbed.

One, take Brazil off the Formula 1 calendar and don’t go there anymore. But considering it’s still a track and a place drivers and fans love, I don’t think that’s happening.

Two, have an army of bodyguards and police officers surrounding anyone involved in Formula 1 for the race weekend. That may be unrealistic because you are protecting hundreds of people and police have to cover the rest of Sao Paulo at the same time.

Three, and the most realistic thing that could be done, the track builds an Olympic style village on site at the track and every driver and team member stays there for the weekend. It would probably cost a lot of money and it might suck for everyone but keeping everyone there and keeping that area heavily guarded, would help matters.

Interlagos has been on the F1 calendar every year since 1990 so maybe a permanent village is the way to go. That doesn’t solve every risk because people still need to get from the airport to the track and vice versa, but at least it would keep everyone safe throughout the race weekend.

[The Guardian]


About Phillip Bupp

News and soccer editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. I also do video highlight game coverage for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

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