Peaceful protesters are welcome but don’t put yourselves in harm’s way – Hamilton

2023 Austrian Grand Prix

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Protesters who target sporting events are welcome as long as they don’t endanger themselves or others, says Lewis Hamilton.

Climate activist groups have tackled a series of events in recent years, including a Formula E race in Berlin two months ago and last year’s British Grand Prix. The group behind the Silverstone protest, Just Stop Oil, also targeted an Ashes cricket match in London yesterday (pictured), the World Snooker Championship in April and other events.

Hamilton, who has often spoken up in support of environmental causes, said he sympathises with their cause but urged them not to put anyone at risk when protesting.

“I welcome protesters or activists,” he told media including RaceFans today. “Always they are pushing for positive change.”

A group of Just Stop Oil protesters entered the track at Silverstone following the start of last year’s race. Hamilton made it clear he does not approve of such tactics.

“We never want to see people standing on the track and putting themselves in harm’s way,” said the Mercedes driver.

However he said protests “spark conversation, that sparks dialogue and it often helps – sometimes, done the right way – it sparks change. And we need more change.

“We need to become more sustainable. We need to be more inclusive. There’s all these things that we need to do more of.

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“It’s moving at such a fast pace, the industry, that sometimes some of those things fall off and they need to be sparked up again by conversation. So I hope we don’t have the same scenario that we had last [year]. But as I said, I’m always supportive of peaceful protests.”

Protests “spark conversation” – Hamilton
The Austrian Grand Prix saw crowd problems of a different kind as some fans suffered harassment and abuse from others in the crowd. One Hamilton fan was brought into the paddock by Mercedes after being subjected to sexist abuse. The behaviour was roundly condemned by drivers and teams, and F1 raised the matter with the promoters during the weekend.

Hamilton said F1 has taken further steps to prevent a repeat but acknowledged it’s down to those in the crowd to behave responsibly.

“When coming to such a beautiful place it was definitely sad to hear what happened last year,” he said. “I do know that Formula 1’s taken action to make some changes here this weekend, but I still feel that there’s work that needs to be done.

“Also just potentially the same group of people could turn up. We just need to be very strong in our stance in terms of how we expect people to be within this space that’s inclusive for anybody. So I hope last year was a one-off. Fingers crossed.”

Max Verstappen, who usually enjoys substantial support at Red Bull’s home race, said those in the stands this weekend should “not get too drunk” and “just watch the race, enjoy it.”

“It will be good to see them, it’s always nice to see the orange colour next to the track,” he continued. “I think also about this track is that on any grandstand that you sit you can actually see a lot of the track and that makes it, I think, very unique.”

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2023 Austrian Grand Prix

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Author information

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
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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11 comments on “Peaceful protesters are welcome but don’t put yourselves in harm’s way – Hamilton”

  1. Does Lewis speak for F1?

  2. Don’t welcome these lunatics, they should be treated with scorn and dealt with swiftly and harshly if they attempt to cause disruptions.

    1. Everyone has the right to peaceful protest – just because it inconveniences you or doesn’t suit your narrative doesn’t mean they should be subjected to your hyperbolic reaction.

      Of course stop them from running on track or causing damage to themselves or others, that’s a non-negotiable, but if they’re protesting in a proper manner, then let them.

  3. Those eco terrorists shouldn’t be welcome anywhere

    1. Those eco terrorists shouldn’t be welcome anywhere

      I do agree that the powder and flare wielding is a pain, but how exactly would you distinguish between a just stop oil protester with a collection of orange powder packs and orange flares and the collection of Max ‘fans’ preparing for a day flinging orange stuff around?

      Raising the dubious ‘fan’ status because I suspect they have more interest in the orange disruptions than in any specific driver or vehicle.

  4. Neil (@neilosjames)
    29th June 2023, 22:09

    People like that do far, far more harm than good to the causes they use as an excuse for their own attention-seeking behaviour. It’s nothing more than a route to a little bit of fame among their social circle of similarly minded people… kind of like those poorly behaved teenagers who steal motorbikes and video themselves riding them to post on Tiktok.

    The causes themselves end up receiving a backlash from people irritated by the attention-seeking ‘activists’, and those sceptical of the approach they’re advocating only become more entrenched in their views as they develop a dislike of the ‘public face’ of said cause.

    (and I have very similar views to them regarding the environment)

  5. You lot don’t get it. These protesters are not “seeking fame in their social circles”…
    They shouldn’t be “treated with scorn and dealt with swiftly and harshly if they attempt to cause disruptions.”

    They are just trying to express the desperation of an emergency which will be both irreversible and will continue accelerating even if we act later. It will lead to droughts and starvation for billions.

    They’ve been criticised for going too far, but previous, more conventional protests don’t seem to have achieved much, as literally half of all of mankind’s total historical CO2 emissions were emitted in the last 30 years. Last year’s annual emissions were a new all-time record, so today we are contributing to the problem more than ever before. See the first graph in the link below, and remember that that is annual emissions, not atmospheric CO2 concentration, which is even more exponential:

    1. The first Extinction Rebellion protest was in 2018, Just Stop Oil have been at it nearly as long. You’re telling me these aggressive, disruptive protests have done nothing to curb the emissions of CO2? I’m in shock.

      1. You’re telling me these aggressive, disruptive protests have done nothing to curb the emissions of CO2?

        I don’t recall seeing much in the way of protest in the countries currently maxing out the CO2 output, but that would require either global travel by the protestors or a decent body of protest support in those countries.

      2. Well, looking at that graph, for most of that time we’ve had gentle protesting, and CO2 emissions have climbed and climbed. That clearly didn’t work.
        In the last 4-5 years we’ve had more aggressive protesting, and emissions have continued to climb. They have not yielded instantaneous results.
        So by your logic, I guess what you’re proposing is that the solution is for everybody to stop protesting altogether, thereby immediately making emissions drop? I’m not convinced.

  6. Entrepreneurship and engineering – two things which motorsport encourages – will solve climate change, not socialism, which is what they actually want.

    It was great to see the BTCC doing it’s part at Oulton Park last week steering kids on the right path.

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