Jenson Button was the target of gun-wielding kidnappers as he was driven back to his hotel after qualifying in the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Yesterday wasn’t really Jenson Button’s day. His low-key performance in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix has probably put the last nail in the coffin of his desire to retain his F1 world champion status. Little, bar a crash taking out Messrs Alonso, Vettel, Webber and Hamilton, will now conspire to allow Jenson to retain his title. Still, it’s not life and death.
Or no doubt that was what Jenson was thinking as he left the track to return to his hotel in Sao Paulo. After all, motor racing carries risk but nothing like the risk it did even a decade ago. And it’s very well rewarded. So even though the world title has all but slipped through his fingers for 2010, life ain’t so bad.
But he was in Brazil. Not a safe place to be. McLaren had sensibly decreed their drivers couldn’t drive themselves around in Brazil and all McLaren staff were barred from wearing anything that would identify them as part of the F1 Circus. Kidnapping and car-jacking are rife and life is cheap in Brazil. As Jenson was to discover.
Travelling back to his hotel in Sao Paulo from the Interlagos track with his dad, his manager and his trainer – in a bullet-proof car supplied by McLaren and driven by a Brazilian police driver – Jenson appears to have been targeted by a gang of six machine-gun-toting, would-be kidnappers as they travelled slowly in traffic near a shanty town.
At the first sign of trouble the police driver gunned the car – using avoidence techniques and bouncing off other cars – and fled the area. Which lead Jenson to call his driver a ‘Legend’. Thankfully there was no damage except to the cars and no one was hurt.
And the driver will live off being called a driving legend by the F1 world champion for the rest of his life.