Vettel sympathises with protesters but says they were wrong to endanger lives

2022 British Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel sympathised with the concerns expressed by anti-oil protesters who tried to disrupt yesterday’s British Grand Prix.

However he also said they were wrong to put lives at risk by entering the track at the start of the race.

Protest group Just Stop Oil were behind yesterday’s track invasion. Seven people were arrested after entering the track near the Wellington Straight as the race began. The race was red-flagged around the same time due to Zhou Guanyu’s heavy crash.

Vettel said he noticed the protesters on the track after the start. He believes they acted out of “desperate” concern over climate change.

“I very much sympathise with their fears and anxieties,” said the Aston Martin driver. “I think everybody who understands the size of the problem that’s drifting towards us can understand.”

However he pointed out the protesters put their own lives at risk as well as the marshals who helped apprehend them.

Guanyu Zhou, Alfa Romeo, Silverstone, 2022
Gallery: 2022 British Grand Prix in pictures
“On the other hand, I see the other side, there’s marshals trying to stop people from doing this kind of thing and you’re risking people that are involved in the race weekend drivers, marshals. So there’s two sides.

“But I think the message was very clear and like I said, I completely sympathise with their fears and anxieties.”

Former Formula 1 driver Martin Brundle, who has been part of the commentary team for coverage of the sport for 25 years, said in a comment on social media no one should “encourage this reckless behaviour”.

“They’d have been sliced into 100 pieces and fans, marshals and drivers were wholly at risk of injury and death,” said Brundle. “We already had one lucky escape. I totally 100% support freedom of speech and opinion, but do it responsibly.”

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
    Claire Cottingham
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    6 comments on “Vettel sympathises with protesters but says they were wrong to endanger lives”

    1. People need to stop mixing up freedom of speech and freedom to protest with “do whatever you want,” honestly.

      I wish the drivers were more resolute in their condemnation. You can still support a cause without trying to empathise with people doing utterly dumb and illegal things, it’s okay.

    2. I agree With Vettel as soon the race is on never get on track or lives are going to be in danger and don’t think Drivers are going to slow down…..and stop isn’t in their possiblility.

    3. Don’t sit on the fence Vettel. Stop racing immediately and join this protest group. Otherwise your words are nothing more than tokenism.

    4. If some of the figures I have seen about the impact of climate change are remotely accurate then I fully get why people want to do this (the only area where I have don’t have pretty strong green credentials is watching motorsport). But based upon the images on youtube you had multiple people (all very young) sitting down across the same area of track. The only way to avoid them would have been to go off track. But if the leading cars go off track, would the following cars have time to see them? Or if a leading loses control when it touches the grass and pivots towards the centre of the track? Probably a 99% chance of fatality if anyone gets hit. I strongly suggest any future protests go the edge of the tarmac but not on to it.

    5. The way media works, Just Stop Oil would have been better off creating a witty poster that was just within the venue rules, and putting it on the stand (or ideally, creating 3 such posters and using a different one, in a different place, on each day). No danger and likely appreciative comment instead of setting back their cause with increased resistance.

      Activism strategy is a thing, and this protest appeared to lack it.

    6. It’s like the protestors didn’t even realize Vettel drove a car using carbon neutral fuels that day. Or that in 2026 they’re going to attempt to convert to fully synthetic fuels, and as a sport going to Carbon neutral in 2030. I wish they would do some research before attempting to slander/protest whatever company shows up for a big event. At least they could be aware that there is notice on this subject, and there is a drive towards change for the good. F1 isn’t blatantly campaigning to say ‘destroy the earth, use all the fuel’. So to me, their protest means moot besides the irony of them disregarding human lives.

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