Jenson Button survives machine gun ambush thanks to his driver

The Formula One world champion Jenson Button and his entourage narrowly evaded an armed gang ambushing their car in São Paulo on the eve of yesterday's Brazilian grand prix.

Men brandishing machine guns attempted to ambush Button when he was being drive back to hotel with his father, John, manager and trainer.

The gang emerged from a block of flats adjacent to a busy road about four minutes' drive from the circuit as the car carrying Button approached. Seeing they were armed with baseball bats and machine guns, the police driver quickly accelerated and forced the car through the group.

Button suggested the group was attacked by six men, while Richard Goddard, his manager, said they were set upon by four or five people. Button said: "We were going back from the track and were outside a shanty town and moving slowly on a busy road. 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 about five cars. We were driving over the top of them. It was very scary."

It is thought the bandits might have been tipped off by an accomplice working at the Interlagos track.

The attack, at 7pm local time, shook Button, 30, the night before the penultimate race of the 2010 F1 world championship, in which he finished fifth.

McLaren had assigned a police driver with a reinforced armoured vehicle to protect the team during their time in São Paulo, known for its gun crime. Button usually prefers to drive himself to and from the circuit.

Mr Goddard said: "You hear about these kind of things in São Paulo and because they don't come home to roost, you don't think about them. But then when it almost happens to you then it's fairly worrying. We were really lucky to have a police driver looking after us."

São Paulo officials put Button under extra protection yesterday as he travelled to and from the circuit. Armed police were positioned every 50 metres around the circuit perimeter.

Brazil suffers from one of the highest gun crime rates in the world. More than 7,000 vehicles were armoured in 2008 for civilians worried by the risk of ambushes. Members of the Toyota team were ambushed in São Paulo six years ago.

Vettel takes fourth triumph of season in Brazil Sport, page 15

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions