bernie ecclestone
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone with his wife Fabiana Flosi, whose mother has reportedly been kidnapped in Brazil Getty

The mother-in-law of Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone has been kidnapped by a criminal gang in Brazil demanding £28m ($36.5m, €33.1m) in ransom, according to local media.

Aparecida Schunck, the 67-year-old mother of Ecclestone's wife, Fabiana Flosi, was reportedly taken in the Sao Paulo neighbourhood of Interlagos on Friday night (22 July).

The gang responsible demanded the ransom be paid in pounds sterling with the money divided into four bags, according to leading Brazilian weekly magazine Veja. It is believed to be the highest amount demanded by kidnappers in the country's history.

Authorities in Brazil have yet to confirm the kidnapping.

Ecclestone, 85, is estimated to be worth about $3.1bn according to Forbes magazine, and is one of the most powerful officials in Formula One.

He married Flosi, 38, in 2012 after meeting her at the Brazilian Grand Prix and divorcing his wife of 25 years, Croatian model Slavica Radic. The pair now live in England.

The kidnappers are reportedly in contact with the Ecclestone family, who have yet to release a statement.

Flosi is reportedly close to her mother and had posted a Facebook message on Mother's Day saying: "Happy Mother's Day to all mothers, and especially mine. There are no words to thank so much love and dedication. Thank you Mum, I love you."

Schunk's reported kidnapping comes just weeks before the Olympic Games are due to begin in Rio de Janeiro on 5 August, delivering a blow to security chiefs trying to bring crime down in the run-up to the event.

This is not the first time Ecclestone has been targeted by criminals seeking to take a slice of his vast fortune.

In 2010, the F1 supremo was mugged and beaten by four men while outside his central London office with his then-girlfriend Flosi. The thieves took £200,000 worth of jewellery.

Two years later a dental technician from Essex, Martin Peckham, attempted to blackmail Ecclestone after threatening to kidnap his daughter Tamara. He was jailed for five years.

Aparecida Schunck
Aparecida Schunck Twitter/ @babygarroux