Jenson Button might have been the victim of an attempted kidnapping in Sao Paulo on Saturday night, according to Sir Jackie Stewart.
The F1 paddock was in shock on Sunday after it emerged the reigning world champion’s car had been approached by up to six men with guns whilst returning from Interlagos to his Morumbi hotel.
The specially-trained police driver fended off the attack by smashing through traffic, with triple world champion Stewart worrying that wallets and watches might not have been the target.
“Drug barons don’t go out to kill people but kidnap them because they are linked to rich multinational companies. In Jenson’s case that means Vodafone and Mobil,” the Scot said.
50 years ago, Cuban rebels kidnapped the then reigning world champion Juan Manuel Fangio at gunpoint and held him for 24 hours.
Button’s father John, who was in the car with his son at the time of the attack, admitted he fears it was not random.
Rumours on Sunday suggested the attackers were alerted a few minutes before the attack that Button’s entourage had left the circuit.
“It was really weird,” said John Button, “because we were in a very small, compact Mercedes, and they couldn’t see in.
“It looked like they were waiting for someone, so that’s a little bit worrying.”
Button’s attack was not the only security issue at Interlagos this year. A group of photographers had their cameras stolen, a radio producer was relieved of his wallet and car keys, and even the local Lucas di Grassi admitted to being mugged.
“A guy walked up to the car, tapped a gun in his belt and I handed over the watch,” said the Virgin driver.
One certainty is that Button was relieved to leave Brazil on Sunday night.
“I don’t think that’s the way to put it,” he said before the race. “It’s an epic circuit and it holds a lot of good memories. But I’ll be on my way home tonight.”
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