A Pirelli tyre test set to take place at the Interlagos circuit this week has been cancelled due to security fears after the Italian manufacturer had staff members targeted by robbers following Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix.
Pirelli has confirmed the incident took place as personnel left Interlagos on Sunday evening, just 48 hours after a minibus carrying Mercedes team members had been robbed at gunpoint on the outskirts of the circuit. In both cases, the staff in question were unharmed.
The Pirelli incident took place despite Sao Paulo police confirming through a statement during the weekend that there would be increased policing in the evening, especially between 10.30 p.m. and 11.30 p.m. when teams and staff leave the track. Questions about security lingered throughout the weekend due to a series of similar stories, which included reports of staff at Sauber encountering an threatening situation as they left the track. FIA employees were also involved in an incident where a man armed with a gun attacked their vehicle, though they were able to escape unharmed.
McLaren and Pirelli were set to stay at Interlagos this week to conduct tests of the manufacturer's 2018 compounds. On Monday, it was confirmed the two-day test will not be taking place.
A statement said: "Following a robbery attempt, neutralized by Pirelli security, on a Pirelli van at the Interlagos circuit last Sunday -- after a weekend where similar episodes occurred with other teams -- it has been decided to cancel the tyre test planned on Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 on the Brazilian circuit with Team McLaren. The decision, shared with McLaren, FIA and Formula One, was made in the interest of the safety of the personnel, both McLaren's and our own, who would have participated in the test."
After the Mercedes incident, newly-crowned world champion Lewis Hamilton called on Formula One to address the issues at the Interlagos circuit, which has had similar cases in previous years. In 2010 former McLaren driver Jenson Button was also threatened at gunpoint as he left the circuit, but was able to escape unharmed. A Toyota team bus was also held up at the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix in a similar area of the city.
Speaking during the weekend, Hamilton said: "The most frustrating thing is that I've been in Formula One for 10 years and every single year that has happened to somebody in the paddock, and it continues to happen. It's an issue I'm sure the government here are fighting, but I think maybe on this weekend, there are protocols that should be put in place to help, like for example when we go to Mexico, which weren't there for these guys.
"So I hope that moving forwards, and I think moving forwards, there will be those. And I think it should be for the whole paddock. That's partly F1's responsibility, but generally the people at the top need to take action to keep everyone safe.
"It's no good just the bosses having security and myself having security. People need to be looked after."
We have jointly decided with Pirelli to cancel this week's tyre test at Interlagos. The safety of our people has always been our top priority, and, given recent events, we felt that it was an unnecessary risk to proceed.— McLaren (@McLarenF1) November 13, 2017
The decision to cancel the test will not have been taken lightly. The two days had been set aside to confirm the final tyre compounds for 2018, which are set to be tested by all teams after the season finale at Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina circuit. Pirelli is yet to confirm whether the Brazil test will be rearranged or whether the cancellation will hamper its preparations for next year's campaign.