The McLaren-Honda Formula One team, in its final weeks with that terrible “H” word tacked onto the name, planned to stick around after the Brazilian Grand Prix for a Pirelli tire test during the week. But after several robbery attempts on teams in Brazil over the weekend, the test got canceled.
Newly named 2017 F1 champion Lewis Hamilton said Saturday his Mercedes team was robbed at gunpoint while leaving Brazil’s Interlagos circuit, with things stolen but no one hurt. ESPN reports that in other incidents, staff members from the Sauber F1 team encountered a “threatening situation” as they left the track over the weekend, and that “a man armed with a gun attacked [a] vehicle” with FIA employees in it. (NBC Sports reports that the future of the Brazilian Grand Prix is in question, but primarily for ownership reasons instead of safety ones.)
The tire test got canceled “due to security fears” after ESPN reports that Pirelli staffers were targeted by robbers Sunday after the race. It happened about two days after the Mercedes robbery, and the staff members weren’t harmed.
McLaren’s test with Pirelli this week was for 2018 tire compounds, which we’ve heard there may be eight of next year. (That’s a little much.) But the test wasn’t happening as of Monday. From ESPN:
The Pirelli incident took place despite Sao Paulo police confirming through a statement during the weekend that there would be increased policing in the evening, especially between 10.30 p.m. and 11.30 p.m. when teams and staff leave the track. ...
A statement said: “Following a robbery attempt, neutralized by Pirelli security, on a Pirelli van at the Interlagos circuit last Sunday — after a weekend where similar episodes occurred with other teams — it has been decided to cancel the tyre test planned on Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 on the Brazilian circuit with Team McLaren. The decision, shared with McLaren, FIA and Formula One, was made in the interest of the safety of the personnel, both McLaren’s and our own, who would have participated in the test.”
After the Mercedes incident, Hamilton tweeted that “F1 and the teams need to do more, there’s no excuse” as far as safety goes. Some of Hamilton’s Mercedes team was robbed at gunpoint last year before the Mexican Grand Prix, with the robbers talking wallets and watches but not harming anyone.
During the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend, Hamilton addressed a lack of security for staff members in lower positions than drivers like himself and team bosses. From ESPN:
Speaking during the weekend, Hamilton said: “The most frustrating thing is that I’ve been in Formula One for 10 years and every single year that has happened to somebody in the paddock, and it continues to happen. ...
“It’s no good just the bosses having security and myself having security. People need to be looked after.”
The tire test was meant to decide on and confirm the final tire compounds for next season, ESPN reports, and Pirelli hasn’t said whether its cancelation will affect the decisions.