Seven arrests over track protest during British Grand Prix

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In the round-up: Northamptonshire police have arrested seven people who entered the track during the opening lap of the British Grand Prix.

In brief

Seven arrested following track invasion at British Grand Prix

Northamptonshire Police arrested seven people involved in the invasion, who it reported were in custody at the end of the race. The group Stop Oil claimed it was behind the protest.

Chief inspector Tom Thompson, in charge of policing for the event, 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.”

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali criticised the protesters’ actions. “Everyone has the right to speak out on issues, but no one has the right to put lives in danger,” he said. “The actions of a small group of people today were completely irresponsible and dangerous.

“We thank the police for their great work and we shouldn’t be complacent about the risk this posed to the safety of the drivers, marshals, fans and the individuals themselves.”

Stop Oil issued a statement on Twitter referring to Northamptonshire Police’s earlier warning about the danger of invading the track to protest. “We did it anyway,” they said. “This action was covered in the national press two days ago, but a handful of ordinary people determined to tell the truth have outwitted the UK government and Northants Police. The disruption will end when new oil and gas is stopped.”

Lewis Hamilton posted a message to social media, after the race, discouraging protestors from entering tracks. “As we’ve seen today, this is a very dangerous sport. I wasn’t aware of the protests today and while I’ll always support those standing up for what they believe in, it must be done safely. Please don’t jump on to our race circuits to protest, we don’t want to put you in harm’s way.”

Leclerc: my disappointment should not overshadow Sainz’s win

Charles Leclerc said that despite his frustration not to finish on the podium at the British Grand Prix, he was pleased to see team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr claim his first victory.

“As much as I am disappointed today on my side, I don’t think this should take the headline on what is an amazing first victory for Carlos,” said Leclerc.

“It’s a dream come true. I think when you are a child you dream of this moment and especially with Ferrari.

“So he needs to enjoy, it’s his day and hopefully next time it will be my day.”

Vandoorne’s poor Marrakech qualifying due to brake problems

Stoffel Vandoorne revealed brake problems compromised his performance at the Marrakech Eprix. Both Mercedes cars failed to reach the qualifying duels: Vandoorne qualified 20th but recovered to eighth in the race, two places behind team mate Nyck de Vries.

“I don’t know quite what to think, I’m torn two ways,” Vandoorne reflected, after the race. “On the one hand, I’m frustrated, because we would have been much further up the grid had it not been for our problems in qualifying. And yet, I have to bear in mind that we managed to limit the damage once again, coming from the back of the grid.

“We’ve been struggling with the brakes since practice, but it was still manageable. However, it got a lot worse during qualifying and it was just impossible to post a lap. We simply can’t afford that, especially not in a world championship where every single point counts. It was all about scoring one, two or as many points as we could in the race.”

Vandoorne is now third in the standings, behind Marrakech Eprix winner Edoardo Mortara and Jean-Eric Vergne.

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Comment of the day

After Zhou Guanyu‘s car dug into the gravel trap at Abbey, sending it flying over the tyre barrier and into catch fencing in front of a grandstand, Chimaera2003 says that spectator safety, as well as drivers’, has to be a priority for the FIA in reviewing the incident:

Whilst I am very relieved that Zhou has not suffered any serious injury, the thing that I took away from this crash was the fact that the car managed to leapfrog the tyre barrier and go into the wire fence. This should be very concerning to the FIA.

If I was the FIA I would be putting the vast majority of any resource looking at this crash into how that happened.

Sounds harsh but if the FIA are not being seen to maximising the safety of spectators then this is a problem, you simply cant ask spectators to accept this kind of risk. The drivers know that there is always a chance that they may get killed when they get in the cockpit (albeit small chance and thankfully getting smaller with each off-season) but spectators should not be thinking the same when they go to a race.

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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26 comments on “Seven arrests over track protest during British Grand Prix”

  1. The drivers know that there is always a chance that they may get killed when they get in the cockpit (albeit small chance and thankfully getting smaller with each off-season) but spectators should not be thinking the same when they go to a race.

    Don’t know if it’s the case elsewhere but Australian tickets definitely have a clause in the terms and conditions that you enter at your own risk.
    Every precaution is taken for safety ofcourse, but there will always be edge cases, and when 20 cars just short of a tonne are accelerating to nearly 300km/h sometimes as close as 50m away, there will always be a risk.
    It’s up to the spectators to assess and manage that risk themselves. If you’re uncomfortable, stay at home.

    1. But all those other people died on tv or in books, not in real life, right?

    2. @skipgamer I’m inclined to agree. Whilst I accept that various precautions that have been introduced over the years are indeed necessary, there is still a part of me that wishes we could still watch an F1 race ‘without’ catch fencing between us and the cars. Of course that isn’t going to happen, but go too far the other way and you’ll be behind solid walls watching on a screen but getting “live sound” (which itself would be muted to avoid long term hearing issues.

      COTD feels like that modern perspective whereby everything that happens in the world should impact us no more than if we were watching it like a video game.

      I’m pretty sure that the number of people injured or killed in vehicle related accidents but who were not in the vehicle would be massively greater than motorsport spectators. And I would be equally sure that pedestrians would be ‘even less’ expectant of something happening to them.

      As Tristan quite simply summarised, it’s pretty easy to avoid being injured at an F1 circuit. Don’t go.

      1. As Tristan quite simply summarised, it’s pretty easy to avoid being injured at an F1 circuit. Don’t go.

        I agree, especially since your trip up there is probably more dangerous than actually being there ;)

    3. @skipgamer All races do. But that’s meant to be a marginal risk due to motorsport having inherent risk, not one that is actively courted through action or neglect.

  2. For those that have F1TV Pro, you can watch the onboard from Tsunoda to see 5 protesters on the track and marshals running towards them. Ocon’s onboard shows the marshals gathering up the idiots, and the onboards from other drivers that went by before shows them still off-track — when Mick goes by, their not on track quite yet, but he sees them in his rear view and says “they’re sitting down”.

    1. Purely out of curiosity, I wonder what the timing was on the triggering of the red flag, between the T1 incident and the track invasion? It took the protestors a little time to climb onto the circuit and race control would have been monitoring / receiving reports from marshalls on the hangar straight. I wonder if they had the emerging track invasion in visibility at the moment they threw the red for the T1 incident?

      It doesn’t matter of course, and the red was always going to come out for Zhou anyway. Everyone is very fortunate the cars weren’t at vmax down hangar with them on the circuit. Incredibly dangerous for them and also the drivers, and marshalls that have to get them off a live circuit

      1. @badger74
        If you watch Max’s onboard, the red flag is thrown just as he enters corner five and then a few seconds later he goes by the first 2 protesters that have just jumped the final barrier.

        1. @x1znet @Badger74 I think that would be too quick for the protesters to have caused the red flag, or even contributed to it. Red flags and safety cars/VSCs appear to take at least 10 seconds to activate, simply because marshals have to contact Race Control, then Race Control has to verbally approve it, then the relevant button(s) has/have to be pressed.

  3. I do think Northamptonshire Police and whoever was providing security services at Silverstone have some questions to answer about how the protesters were allowed to access the track. There was plenty of intelligence that a track invasion might happen, to the point that the police went public with warnings, so they should have been extra vigilant, especially at points where track access was relatively easy. And yet, as Stop Oil put it, they managed to “outwit” the police with apparent ease.

    1. @red-andy Unfortunately Silverstone has a pretty long perimeter, much of which is accessible to a sufficiently determined member of the public. They likely weren’t outwitted so much as outstaffed.

  4. Neil (@neilosjames)
    4th July 2022, 7:06

    Whilst I am very relieved that Zhou has not suffered any serious injury, the thing that I took away from this crash was the fact that the car managed to leapfrog the tyre barrier and go into the wire fence. This should be very concerning to the FIA.

    I don’t think there’s much the FIA or circuit designers could do regarding the car going over the tyre barrier in this situation. With the energies involved in an F1 crash they can never entirely remove the risk, and can only design the circuit safety features to account for a large majority of potential incidents which may occur. They could have modelled 1,000 race starts at Silverstone and never once come up with a situation where a car was sliding upside down towards the barrier, at that angle and that speed, and its tyres digging in at a very specific moment to launch it over the tyre wall.

    Besides, in the Zhou incident the circuit safety features worked – the run-off area reduced the car speed, the catch fence did its job and the car didn’t enter the spectator area. My only concern is the tiny gap it landed in, which made extraction so difficult.

    1. When the tyre barrier was designed no one thought a car would approach it while inverted.

    2. @neilosjames There is – it bounced off an inflection (either in the gravel or the general slope of that area). It’s why gravel areas have to be carefully raked before and after use. That would also have been a risk had it been the correct way up (let alone sideways – some tyre deflection angles would have been sharper than that offered by Halo and thus worse).

      Of course the track designers and organisers, along with the FIA, have encountered this before. It’s going to be another round of iteration in an improvement path that has already seen many previous iterations – the less exciting but still necessary side of motorsport safety.

  5. I’m not sure karma is the right term (and I can only say this because nobody got injured) but it seems Nissany caused that accident himself by rejoining the track in an unsafe manner and forcing the other car off.

    1. @jff Hauger (RB-liveried car) is the one who rejoined the track in an unsafe manner.

      1. @jerejj, but Hauger was forced off track by Nissany when he rejoined the track in an unsafe manner and then changing his line to push Hauger off.
        Check the full Insta video posted by Nissany

  6. I already typed this in another article, but without Zhou’s shunt or any incidents & collisions for that matter, neither red, SC, nor even VSC would’ve come out, in which case everyone would’ve approached the invaders on full throttle.
    This reckless behavior could’ve had a terrible outcome, but fortunately, nothing happened in the end.

    I was slightly surprised when I found out Albon had gone to hospital & Zhou ultimately hadn’t (my initial understanding was that he’d indeed gone to the hospital, but the medical center was enough for him, after all.)
    I guess the impact from pit wall contact was heavier than it seemed from the T-cam replay.

    A nice little story about Russell, although him standing on tyre wall didn’t get shown on the world feed, only him running towards Zhou’s stricken car.

    Sausage curbs aren’t unsafe literally everywhere, especially on & around slow-speed corners (& Vale is among these corner types). This incident is only an isolated case.

    A very valid & spot-on COTD.

    1. Yes, good point about the accident possibly having saved us (motorsport and its fans) from potential serious harm to those protesters with their stupid action when the whole field would be barrelling towards them at full speed @jerejj.

      1. But did they go on track because they had the oppertunity of the red flag or did they already got there before the red flag? Still stupid action.

        1. They were at the border of the track when the cars came trough, seconds after the red flag was thrown @grapmg, so they would have already been inside the track before the red flag.

          1. Watch Max’s onboard — he gets the red flag in turn 5 and you can just see 2 protesters jumping the last barrier in the distance and 3 others still behind it as he goes by… so no, the were not yet over the last barrier when the red flag was thrown.

        2. @grapmg Hard to say. There was probably time enough to know a red flag was coming, even if it hadn’t been waved yet.

  7. Off course there is always a risk to just about anything we do, and yes, there are warnings on the tickets for races (although such warnings are even on theme park tickets, concert tickets etc nowadays, making them about as useful as the terms of use of just about any software we mechanically click “agreed” for when installing on our devices).

    But it is the responsibility of the promoter, and the FIA as the body that defines the safety regulations and checks the tracks to make sure they do everything reasonable to prevent any avoidable risks to the best of their abilities.

    Since we now saw this sort of incident IS possible, it will have to be looked at (investigated) and measures will have to be taken. To dump that on the fans, or on the writer of the CotD is unfair. Sure, it is a modern perspective, since we do not accept anymore that people die because we neglected safety measures that could be taken and we have boatloads of steps we CAN take, so there is just no excuse for not taking them @cairnsfella

    The amount of road casualties is also a focus for the FIA and yeah, we have been able to greatly reduce it by adapting the roads, putting up signs, redesigning crossings, adding lights and seperate walkways/bicycle lanes and even started putting in place crumple areas, geometry of hoods and even airbags to lessen the impact when a car does hit a pedestrian. Because we have those tools available and are working towards lowering any casualties.

    Despite all our efforts, yesterday showed that it still can be dangerous. That is a risk. But why not eliminate risks where possible?

  8. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    4th July 2022, 8:24

    Ilott’s post about Russell does have a point, but while he was great today and wanting to check on Zhou, he has had on occasion in the past where he attempted to hit bottas in the face when he had just ran on to the grass and then as a result, collided into bottas. Although bottas didn’t flip, his crash into the wall was actually much higher speed than what happened yesterday, but russell simply wasn’t the person that Ilott’s post and the comment implies. I can imagine that if he thinks the driver who’s had the heavy impact is at fault, he has an attitude problem. But then he won’t be the only one.

    I think it is questionable that he didn’t get some sort of penalty for the incident or his actions afterwards.

    That said, the incident today was his fault too, but I don’t think it was any more than a racing incident really.

  9. The COTD is about a manufactured problem.

    No spectator got injured; the safety measures were adequate.

    A car smashing into the wire fence sure looks dramatic but the wire fence is there for this purpose.

    Or are spectators only safe if the safety structures installed are never even needed at all? That is a weird reasoning, unless we consider spectators’ fright to be a safety issue, too.

Comments are closed.