Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes team robbed at gunpoint in Brazil (updated)

Lewis Hamilton could become Formula One's highest paid driver by earning £45m a year

Lewis Hamilton could become Formula One's highest paid driver by earning £45m a year

A Mercedes minibus full of team personnel was robbed at gunpoint in Sao Paulo on Friday night as they made their way back from the circuit to the team hotel, but no members of the team were injured.

Hamilton, who clinched his fourth title in Mexico two weeks ago, lost control and hit the barriers on his first flying lap after only two minutes.

One report claimed that no one had been harmed in the incident. Bottas said the incident spurred him on to extract even more out of his performance and seal his third pole in F1.

"I'm OK. It happened really quickly", Hamilton said.

Further back, strong runs from Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen saw them claim P5 and P6, respectively, albeit they would not remain there thanks to late flourishes from Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon.

This allowed Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas to snatch pole position away by a slender margin, leaving Vettel to settle for P2 on the grid in Brazil.

"I just need to take whatever bubble of negativity comes from that experience and move forwards and try and grow from it".

"I'm very happy with the qualifying, from my side and also from the team's side, except the unfortunate off Lewis had in the beginning". "Still a bit shaky but it's a good feeling".

Former driver Niki Lauda, one of the team's managers, told Globo TV that "we are all worried". Hamilton has raced with 44 since Formula One first introduced permanent driver numbers in 2014, choosing the double digit because it was the same one he raced with in go-karts.

Before the Brazil GP, he said: "I don't think they are going to ask".

Retirement-bound local hero Felipe Massa of Williams was 10th.

Bottas is 15 points adrift of Vettel in the battle over second place in the drivers' standings and will close the gap if he can finish ahead of the German in Sunday's 71-lap race.

I chickened out a little bit with the brakes.

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