British Grand Prix protest: Just Stop Oil storms Silverstone track, arrests made

Police have taken protesters into custody after a scary demonstration at the British Grand Prix that was branded a “special kind of stupid”.

Protesters have stormed the fence at the British Grand Prix in an attempt to stop the race.

Climate activists were seen invading the Silverstone circuit and sitting on the track before being removed by safety marshalls.

The protest would have brought the race to a stop — but their efforts were overshadowed by the terrifying Lap 1 crash that saw Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo flip upside down at high speed.

The crash saw the race red flagged and stopped.

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The protesters were identified as members of theJust Stop Oilmovement. Police announced shortly after that seven protesters had been arrested and were in custody.

“Event commander chief inspector Tom Thompson said: “I’m really disappointed that this group of people ignored our warnings prior to race-day and made the incredibly dangerous decision to enter the track.

“We offered to facilitate a peaceful event at the circuit but they instead chose to put the lives of the drivers, marshals and volunteers at risk. It is incredibly disappointing that anyone would make the decision to do this.”

The group was also responsible for a stunt at a London art gallery last week, when two protesters glued themselves to the frame of a Vincent van Gogh painting.

Monday morning’s protest came after Northamptonshire police announced they had “credible intelligence” that environmental activists were planning a protest.

Police urged protesters not to put lives at risk by storming the track.

It happened anyway.

There were some scary moments as cars drove past the protesters on the track just metres away from the marshalls trying to remove the group. The cars were driving at slow speed because the race had already been red flagged following Guanyu’s crash at Turn 1.

Formula 1’s governing body the FIA said they had safely removed the group from the circuit.

“We confirm that after the red flag, several people attempted to enter the track,” an FIA statement reported.

“These people were immediately removed and the matter is now being dealt with by the local authorities.”

In a press statement Just Stop Oil claimed responsibility for Sunday’s latest action at one of the jewels in Britain’s sporting calendar.

They demanded that the British government “calls an immediate halt to new oil and gas projects in the UK” and warned they would “continue to disrupt sports, cultural events and oil until this demand is met”.

Activist Louis McKechnie said: “I’m in resistance because I cannot stand by while our government licenses new oil and gas projects. Our addiction to oil has brought us to the brink of catastrophe.”

The group posted several messages from those involved in the protest on its social media channels.

There was a backlash of criticism directed at the group on social media following the stunt — but the protest had the support of Formula 1 legend Lewis Hamilton.

The seven-time world champion after the race gave a “big up to those guys”.

“I love that people are fighting for the planet and we need more people like them,” he said.

Formula 1 officials were not in agreeance.

Formula 1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali said the group had been “totally stupid”.

“You can protest whatever you want, it’s freedom to speak — but this is really something,” he told Sky Sports.

“It’s ridiculous, this is the minimum I can say.”

Sports media commentator Matt Davies said the protest was “wrong” to put the safety of drivers in jeopardy

“I’m all for protesting, but you’ve got to be a special kind of stupid and selfish to do in a Formula One race, putting marshals and drivers at risk,” he posted on Twitter.

“If it’s an environmental protest then blockade the gates of Silverstone or something so no one can get in and cause disruption/make a statement that way, but going on the track is wrong for me.”

— with AFP

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