The amount of media topspin applied to Jenson Button's escape from armed bandidos in Brazil was quite something to behold. It was as if he'd been targeted by a kid with a pea shooter one minute and a squadron of B52s the next.
It can't have been a nice experience but Jenson himself praised his driver's quick thinking and said he felt more sympathy for the Sauber engineers who were not in a bullet proof car and who lost their brief cases and personal effects. This is pretty standard fare for the trip to Interlagos. You can practically guarantee that something unpleasant will befall someone and, inevitably, it causes people to start asking whether it's a place F1 should keep going to.
Jenson Button relives his escape from armed bandits for the press © Sutton
The first time I went was '92. Obviously I'd read about the F1 fraternity having their watches nicked on the Copocabana beach when the race used to be in Rio, but I went to Sao Paulo without any undue concern. Going in blind and on a budget, I stayed in a hotel which charged £112 for the four days, including breakfast and dinner.
It was in a bit of a ropey area, lots of dogs and barefoot children, and I did feel conspicuous walking around with a collared shirt and doctor's case with computer.
But I rode buses and trams, walked around at night, everybody smiled and there wasn't a problem.
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