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Ecclestone: Brazil 'as safe as anywhere in the world'

F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone has rubbished speculation that in the wake of the weekend's events, Interlagos could lose its place on the sport's annual calendar - insisting Brazil is 'as safe as anywhere in the world'
In the wake of the attempted armed carjacking on reigning F1 World Champion Jenson Button at the weekend – or potentially even something more sinister altogether – the sport's commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone has been quick to dismiss speculation that the Brazilian Grand Prix's traditional slot on the annual calendar is at risk, insisting São Paulo is 'as safe as anywhere in the world'.

Amidst suggestions that the failed ambush on Button was in actual fact a kidnap plot orchestrated by a local drugs gang [see separate story – click here] – and in the knowledge that a group of Sauber engineers, officials from Ecclestone's own company Formula One Management (FOM) and several members of the media were similarly attacked, all like the McLaren-Mercedes star thankfully escaping unharmed – there have been many who have questioned how Interlagos can continue to justify its place on the schedule in the light of recent events.

Dangerous incidents in what is widely-regarded to be one of the world's most violent cities are unfortunately nothing new around F1 time in São Paulo, a city in which extremes of wealth and poverty are only too evident. However, revealing that it had never crossed his mind to remove the race from the calendar and that such occurrences should be kept in perspective, British billionaire Ecclestone told Reuters that he personally had never felt threatened in Brazil, despite the car in which he travels in the country benefitting from armoured protection and a specially-trained driver…

“I've been coming here for more than 40 years, not just for the race,” asserted the recently-turned 80-year-old, whose current girlfriend Fabiana Flosi is Brazilian. “I have walked around, driven, been out in restaurants in the city and never seen or heard anything threatening. I've run on the beach here early in the morning with a watch on and never been mugged, never seen anyone being mugged. I've never, ever had a problem – it's as safe here as anywhere in the world.

“Normally like in America or anywhere you go there are people getting mugged. In London, it's a funny thing you know – it's surprising in Oxford Street the number of people that get mugged there hourly… We should have more police there.”

The FOM chief executive then went on to mischievously claim that Button might have saved himself the entire harrowing ordeal had he only qualified higher up the grid on Saturday.

“They look for victims, they look for anyone that looks like a soft touch and not too bright,” he contended. “The people that look a bit soft and simple, they will always have a go at. I think here for the race weekend they probably watch TV and see who's not qualified in the top ten and think, 'well they must be a bit stupid otherwise they would qualify in the top ten obviously'. So they are victims.”

The sport's supremo subsequently inquired as to where Button had qualified, and when told it was eleventh, he replied: “There you are, you see, I have to rest my case.”

Ever-outspoken former triple F1 World Champion Niki Lauda backed Ecclestone's staunch defence of the Brazilian Grand Prix, but Williams' esteemed executive director of engineering Patrick Head – normally a self-proclaimed fan of the country – was less willing to simply forgive and forget quite so easily.





Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Saturday Practice, Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-25
Friday Practice 1, Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-25
Friday Practice 1, Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-25
Saturday Practice, Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-25
Saturday Practice, Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-25
Saturday Practice, Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of Formula One Management
Saturday Practice, Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of Formula One Management, Fabiana Flosi (BRA) Brazilian Grand Prix Vice-President of Marketing and girlfriend of Bernie Ecclestone and Sir Jackie Stewart (GBR)
Saturday Practice, Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of Formula One Management and his girlfriend Fabiana Flosi (BRA)
Saturday, Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of Formula One Management  and his girlfriend Fabiana Flosi (BRA) Brazilian Grand Prix Vice-President of Marketing
Sunday, Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of Formula One Management  and his girlfriend Fabiana Flosi (BRA) Brazilian Grand Prix Vice-President of Marketing
Rene Dreyfus and Tazio Nuvolari at the 1935 Grand Prix de Pau
Pic credit: Agence de presse Meurisse‏ [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Peter Gethin sat in his BRM at the 1972 British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch
Lotus E22 with Hisense sponsorship
Sebastian Vettel drives the Russian Grand Prix circuit in Sochi - Pic credit: Infiniti
Sebatian Vettel and David Coulthard at the Russian Grand Prix circuit in Sochi - Pic credit: Infiniti
Sebastian Vettel drives the Russian Grand Prix circuit in Sochi for the first time - Pic credit: Infiniti
24.08.2014- Race, Start of the race
24.08.2014- Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari F14-T and Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams F1 Team FW36

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DBL

November 08, 2010 12:34 PM

He doesn't leave the circuit during the weekend though does he, he has his own motorhome in the paddock. Then flies by helicopter direct to and from the airport. Of course Bernie Sao Paolo is perfectly safe, if you never have to go into it.



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