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  • Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who crashed out of the Brazilian GP qualifying in Sao Paulo at 160mph on Saturday.

    Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who crashed out of the Brazilian GP qualifying in Sao Paulo at 160mph on Saturday. | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 November 2017

The Mercedes team van was held up by a gunman on the main road leading to the Interlagos track; a day later, Hamilton crashed out of qualifying at 160mph. 

The Brazilian F1 Grand Prix got off to a bumpy start this weekend when world champion Lewis Hamilton crashed out at 160mph the day after members of his Mercedes team were robbed at gunpoint in Sao Paulo.

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The Mercedes van was held up by a gunman on the main road leading to the Interlagos track in the sprawling Brazilian capital, the BBC reports. Valuables were stolen, but no one was hurt.

Hamilton posted on Twitter: "Gunshots fired, gun held at one's head. This is so upsetting to hear. It happens every single year here.

"F1 and the teams need to do more. No excuse. Please say a prayer for my guys, who are here as professionals today even if shaken."

A spokesman for Hamilton’s team later confirmed that "Valuables were stolen, but most importantly everybody is safe and uninjured."

The robbery is the latest in a string of attacks on Formula One personnel in Sao Paulo. Former F1 driver Jensen Button narrowly avoided being robbed at gunpoint 2010 when his driver charged their armoured car through traffic to escape.   

On Saturday, Hamilton suffered a personal indignity when he crashed out of qualifying less than two minutes into his first competitive outing since winning the world championship.

The 32-year-old British driver, who took his fourth world title last month in Mexico, lost control of his car at 160mph before thudding into the tyre barrier, the Guardian reports. He was not injured.

"It happened really quickly," Hamilton said after the incident. "There’s not much to say. It is what it is. It is unfortunate. Challenges are what make life interesting, so overcoming them makes life meaningful.

"It was very unusual of me, just shows we are all human. I will try to have as much fun as possible in the race. Years ago, I came from quite far behind and had a great race."

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