Button praises driver after armed gang attack

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

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

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 told the Mail today.

"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 about 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 McLaren 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 told Press Association Sport.

"I would suggest there were more than four or five guys, something along those lines, who emerged from a block of flats.

"I initially saw one guy carrying this piece of wood, a baseball bat kind of thing, but I didn't spot the one who had a gun until someone pointed it out.

"It was pulled, and that was it really. You didn't really have time to think about what was happening.

"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.

"We were very lucky to have a police driver looking after us because he got us out of what could have been quite a frightening situation.

"The real positive thing to take out of it is that we are all fine and we're all able to look back on it and see it for what it was.

"Obviously from our perspective, luckily it wasn't a lot worse, and luckily the sharp actions of our police driver forcing his way through the traffic like he did was great."

McLaren confirmed the Sao Paulo authorities will today provide additional security to transfer Button, team-mate Lewis Hamilton and other senior personnel to the Interlagos circuit ahead of the race.

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