Four-star Hamilton on record pace in Brazil

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World champion Lewis Hamilton crashed out without posting a time at Interlagos, but Bottas ensured there would be a Mercedes at the front of the grid courtesy of a track record lap of one minute and 8.322 seconds. In a series of tweets, Hamilton said that gunshots were fired and a member of the team even had a firearm held to their head.

Mercedes released a statement following Hamilton's incident.

British driver George Russell, the 19-year-old GP3 champion, made his grand prix weekend debut with Force India and was an impressive 12th fastest at an unfamiliar circuit and in a vehicle he had not driven before.

It said: "One minibus was robbed at gunpoint".

He further added, "This happens every single year here".

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In 2010, Jensen Button was the victim of an armed robbery attempt in the city. "Valuables were stolen but everybody is safe and uninjured which is the main thing".

Sebastian Vettel was left ruing a mistake on his final hot lap in Formula 1 qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix after missing out on pole position by just 0.038 seconds. It is said that staff from the FIA's governing body and Williams F1 team crew members were also targeted in separate incidents but managed to escape unharmed.

"The moment you get into the vehicle the musing about the ifs and buts of the past 18 races stops abruptly and you focus again only on the driving", Vettel said.

It is not the first time the Brazilian Grand Prix has been marred by threats against F1 teams and drivers. Button, then the reigning world champion, was returning to his hotel following qualifying at the Interlagos circuit when his vehicle was approached by at least three men brandishing machine guns.

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