The latest violent incidents involving F1 personnel is evidence Brazil "needs to evolve". That is the view of retiring Brazilian veteran Felipe Massa, after it emerged that robberies involving guns affected Mercedes, Williams and FIA staff as they travelled from the Interlagos circuit to hotels in sprawling Sao Paulo.
On social media, world champion Lewis Hamilton did not hide his anger that his team members were caught up in the drama: "I was horrified," the Mercedes driver admitted to reporters: "The saddest thing is that I've been in Formula 1 for ten years, and every year at least someone from the paddock becomes a victim like this. It's also the responsibility of Formula 1. They need to do something to ensure that everyone is safe," Hamilton added.
The FIA responded by saying "heavy police reinforcements" have been deployed for the rest of the weekend. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff commented: "Brazil is a wonderful country, but we should not need armoured vehicles to travel safely from the hotel to the track."
Williams driver Massa is a Sao Paulo native, but he admitted to Globo on Saturday that he has no intention of returning to the troubled city to live with his family: "It is so sad not only for those who are having the problem but also for Brazilians. But it just shows how much the country needs to evolve," he said.
The future of the race at Interlagos is already under a cloud, but Massa said the latest incidents are not evidence that F1 should end its association with Brazil.
"We race in Mexico, we've raced in India, and I don't know if it's any more dangerous than there," he said. "But it is a problem for the people in charge who need to give security for whoever is here. I love Brazil," Massa insisted, "but at the moment I will not go back (to live).
"My son is studying in Monaco, he speaks three languages which is important for his future. Maybe in the future I would love to return to a better and safer country," he added.
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