Monday, 13 november 2017, 08:26 , by Matthew Scott
The mayor of Sao Paolo, Joao Doria, has played down the spate of hijackings that have befallen F1 officials and teams during the Brazil Grand Prix at Interlagos.
Over the course of the weekend, Mercedes, Williams, FIA staff, and Sauber all had members of their staff come under attack by armed gunmen, and although no-one has been injured, the problem incensed drivers such as Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa.
But Doria insists that whilst the incidents are inexcusable, such issues are not exclusive to his native country.
"What has happened cannot be justified," he told DPA news agency.
"But I've seen worse cases at other race tracks. It was the first time we had a case of such seriousness."
Massa has been one of the main critics of the situation and when asked about the problem, the Brazilian confessed that his country had an issue but it deserves to continue to host Grands Prix.
"We are going through difficult times," he said.
"I hope F1 stays in Brazil. This country is too important, having had so many drivers, so many world champions."
Doria subsequently responded to his compatriot's comments and defended the country whilst also confirming Sao Paolo's intention to renew their contract with F1 beyond 2020.
"I like Felipe very much, but circumstances like these have occurred on other racetracks in the world. And no one ever said he was ashamed to be from that country or to have that circuit.
"These are regrettable circumstances, but they can occur in any country,"
"We have a contract until 2020 and whoever purchases the circuit must respect it. After that, we hope we can renew for another 10 years."