Wednesday 13 December 2017

Formula One star praises driver after fleeing armed gang

Ian Parkes in Sao Paulo

Formula One world champion Jenson Button praised the swift actions of his police driver after being confronted by an armed gang in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Button, his father John, manager Richard Goddard and trainer Mike Collier escaped unharmed after the frightening attack that occurred on their return to their hotel after the qualifying session for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Saturday.

The quartet managed to flee the machine-gun wielding assailants as their police protector used the armoured Mercedes he was driving to barge his way through several vehicles.

"We were going back from the track and were outside a shanty town and moving slowly on a busy road," Button said.

"I saw a dog come out, which was very cute. The next thing I saw was a man with a gun. I said 'isn't that a gun?' and as soon as I said that, the driver angled the car and floored it.

"That's when we saw six men, all of them brandishing machine guns. My driver was a legend. He bounced off five cars. We were driving over the top of them. It was very scary.

"I don't know whether they knew who it was they were ambushing. But I am glad I didn't have my girlfriend Jessica (Michibata) with me. She would have been terrified."

Mr Goddard also praised the officer assigned to protect them, an action purposefully instigated by their McLaren racing team given the level of gun crime in Sao Paulo, one of South America's most violent cities.

"We were about three or four minutes away from the circuit when the incident took place," Mr Goddard said. "I would suggest there were more than four or five guys, something along those lines, who emerged from a block of flats.

"You hear about these kind of things in Sao Paulo, and because they don't come home to roost, you don't think about them. But when it almost happens to you then it's fairly worrying."

Irish Independent

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