Reflecting back on the 'terrifying' and 'horrendous' incident in which he escaped a gunpoint ambush over the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend, reigning F1 World Champion Jenson Button has insisted that he is 'sure it was a random attack' - but his father John, who was in the car with him at the time of the ordeal, is rather more concerned that his son might have been the deliberate target of a kidnapping gang.

Button Jnr and Snr were in an armoured Mercedes B-Class along with the McLaren-Mercedes star's manager Richard Goddard and trainer Mike Collier when they were approached by 'five or six' men wielding weapons - some machine guns - as they sat in traffic in a favela (shanty town) on their way from the Interlagos circuit back to their S?o Paulo hotel at around 7pm on Saturday evening. Virgin rookie Lucas Di Grassi was mugged in the same area last month.

The group were saved only by the quick-thinking reaction of the vehicle's specially-hired undercover police driver - a man specifically-trained in avoidance techniques in just such situations - who barged his way past the queue of stationary cars and enabled Button and his entourage to successfully flee their would-be assailants. The nine-time grand prix-winner later described the driver, Daniel Toni, as an 'absolute legend'.

"We left at about 7:15pm and headed out of the circuit," he told the BBC. "About a kilometre away or a little bit less, we rocked up at a set of traffic lights. We couldn't go through the traffic lights - we were about three cars back. We were in an armoured car with a policeman as the driver, an undercover cop - a great guy.

"He obviously didn't feel that comfortable - he stopped about a car's length behind the car in front. We looked to the right and we saw five or six guys walk out of this building; they were just at the edge of the road. They looked a little bit suspicious but I didn't think anything of it until Richard, my manager, saw this guy with a sort of baton hanging down from his arm.

"I looked across a bit more at the guys, and one of them had a gun in his trousers that he was playing with. He looked really uncomfortable, really nervous. I said, '****, he's got a gun!' and then we all started shouting, 'Go, go, go, go!' to the driver. He knew what to do; he put [the car] at an angle to the traffic so we could get through, and then they started running towards the car.

"There were two guys with small handguns along with one guy who had a big gun that looked like a machine gun. The driver saw it and floored it. There wasn't enough room to get through, but he got between six cars, ramming every single one of them to get past. He was almost going over the top of them, bumping and bouncing off them, but eventually we made it. It was like a Hollywood movie.

"The car wasn't that damaged. We had a problem with the front-right suspension, but he could keep driving and it was all okay in the end, but not a very nice feeling. We couldn't drive fast, though, and about a kilometre down the road we found a police car.

"We pulled alongside the police car and told them what the problem was. At this point we had two other cars coming up alongside us, obviously quite angry because we had damaged their cars. As soon as [Toni] told them what had happened they were all fine. At the hotel, they got out of their cars and shook the driver's hand because they knew what a good job he had done. He was an absolute legend."

Palpably somewhat shaken up by the attempted carjack, such incidents in S?o Paulo are sadly not uncommon and F1 personnel have been targeted before in what is a notoriously dangerous and violent city. In evidence of that, three Sauber engineers as well as some Formula One Management (FOM) officials and several members of the media were also either threatened or robbed over the weekend [see separate story - click here] - all similarly escaping thankfully unharmed - but Button is the first driver to come under attack in the 20 years that the Brazilian Grand Prix has been held at Interlagos. He just hopes he was not a purposely-intended victim.

"I really feel for the Sauber guys, because they actually had to stop the car and give everything over," the 30-year-old confessed, speaking to The Daily Telegraph. "They had a pretty horrible ordeal. We're lucky; we're all okay. It's a pretty scary situation. You hear about it happening over the years, but until you are actually involved you don't know how it feels. Initially you don't believe it's happening, so it's quite strange. We're not the first people, but there's obviously a lot of attention because it's the first time a driver has been held up.

"It always looks set up, I'm sure, and that is the way it felt. I'm sure it was a random attack, though - we've just got to hope it was, because that sort of thing does happen here. I did have my team top on and I was in the front, but [the car] was blacked-out and you can't see anything. We stopped right outside the entrance [to some rundown flats], so I think we were unlucky more than anything else.

"If we had been in something like an S-Class Mercedes, which is a very flash car, then maybe, but a B-Class is one of the smallest they have. It's not a big, flash car - there are far flashier cars that drive around these streets. Obviously it hasn't ended here and I'm sure there will be a lot of talks about the future, but the important thing at the moment is everyone is okay."

Both Button and McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton were provided with an armed police escort to return to the track on Sunday morning for the race - in which they finished respectively fifth and fourth, the former from down in eleventh on the grid - but echoing comments made by three-time F1 World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart, John Button admitted his fears that the attack was anything but random.

"We're aware of the dangers," he conceded. "We've heard of many, many incidents, but the only thing that really worries me is whether they were after Jense. It was really weird because we were in a very small, compact Mercedes, and they couldn't see in, but it looked like they were waiting for someone. I don't know if someone at the circuit had told them we had left. That's a little bit worrying. Maybe I'm wrong, but yes, it was scary. Our driver, though, was awesome - straight out of Hollywood, the damage he caused."

"Part of the danger is the risk of kidnap," added Stewart, "and there are rumours here that it's linked to the drug trade. They don't go out to kill people, but kidnap them because they are linked to rich multi-national companies."



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