George Russell, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2023

Russell tells protesters to ‘be fair and look at the good F1 is doing on sustainability’

2023 British Grand Prix

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George Russell has urged climate activists to take notice of the changes Formula 1 is making to improve its sustainability and not target it with protests.

A series of sporting events in Britain have been targeted by members of Just Stop Oil, who are campaigning for an end to the use of fossil fuels. A group from the organisation invaded the track at the start of last year’s British Grand Prix and were subsequently arrested and charged.

Similar protests have disrupted the Wimbledon tennis tournament and the Ashes cricket series in recent weeks. Russell said extra precautions have been taken to avoid a repeat during this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

“We put our trust and faith in F1 and Silverstone and the FIA,” said the Mercedes driver, who is also a director of the Grand Prix Drivers Association. “I think there’s 100 extra marshals around this weekend to try and stop anybody running onto the track.”

He warned that any protests involving an invasion of the track could put lives at risk.

“I feel that we’re all open and free to try to cast our views, but doing it on a live Formula 1 track is pretty irresponsible and extremely dangerous for whoever the protestors are,” he said. “Not only them, for drivers, marshals, who potentially be running after people.”

F1 plans to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero by 2030. As part of that it intends to introduce a fully sustainable fuel source in 2026, when it will also increase the proportion of engine power which is generated electrically.

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Russell said those who have targeted sporting events with climate protests recently should make themselves aware of the positive changes F1 is making.

“I’d encourage these protesters to look at the good that Formula 1 is doing on a sustainability perspective,” he said. “We’re going to 100% sustainable fuels in the future.

“As a sport, as teams, as individuals, we’re doing a huge push on the sustainability front and I think would only be fair for them to have a look, see what we’re doing, even open conversations with us before recklessly running onto a circuit when we’re driving past at 200 mph.”

Russell’s team mate Lewis Hamilton said he is “really hoping that we’ve learnt a lot from last year’s experience and that won’t happen this weekend.”

He pointed out Mercedes is also working to improve the sustainability of its F1 programme. “From my perspective, and I think my team’s, we are very, very focussed on sustainability,” he said. “We believe in what people are fighting for and we are making those changes as a sport.

“But safety is key. We don’t want to be put in harm’s way and we don’t want to put anyone else in harm’s way. So if there was to be one, we hope that it’s not on track.”

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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...

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21 comments on “Russell tells protesters to ‘be fair and look at the good F1 is doing on sustainability’”

  1. Typical media trained response. Personally, I’d tell them exactly where to put their signs & thoughts. Hopefully they’re stupid enough to step on to the track & can have some split second sense knocked into them.

    1. Rarr rarr rarr – boring!

  2. Basically: stay safe everyone.
    Protest is a basic right. There are arguments for and against Formula 1 in terms of sustainability and I don’t think Formula 1 should duck (seek to silence) counter-arguments. What worries me is protestors risking themselves, and in so doing others, but also suppression of their rights, including by violent means. Anyhow, let’s see how it goes.

    1. It’s but bringing lives in danger (not their own) is a nono so running on track when the race starts they endanger the drivers as they don’t expect meatbags on track….
      next to the track is fine with me banners also fine other then that no big No.

  3. Self-appointed activists might want to consider a change of chalk colour from orange at a Grand Prix…

  4. Russell to protestors: Please ignore that this sport is fueled (and may soon be owned) by oil states, their investment vehicles and their desire to keep selling carbohydrates to the world.

  5. F1 plans to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero by 2030. As part of that it intends to introduce a fully sustainable fuel source in 2026…

    This includes millions of gallons of jet fuel F1 consumes each season, right?

    1. This includes millions of gallons of jet fuel F1 consumes each season, right?

      Recent tests involved flying jet aircraft using hydrogen
      Might be progress by 2030.

      1. Not quite the visible link I wanted, but it works

  6. F1 is no more carbon intensive than any sport where 30+ teams are flying constantly from even-to-event. I donate a lot of money to environmental concern, but we’re not going to win over more people by going after people hobbies which are drops in a bucket compared to systemic sources of CO2.

    Bigger issues with F1 is them constantly supporting brutal dictators from Putin to Xi to MBS. While we’re in China, a genocide is literally taking place. It’s disgusting.

    1. F1 is no more carbon intensive than any sport where 30+ teams are flying constantly from even-to-event.

      Not when you only take travel of personnel into account.

      The amount of energy it takes to make a complete modern F1 car is truly astounding. Materials are sourced and processed in all corners of the world, often traversing multiple times before they reach the team assembly centre as a finished product or sub-assembly. Then there is the sheer amount of electricity consumed in design, testing and development of each individual part – plus all the energy and materials that went into producing the tools which made it.
      Ever wondered how many test engines it takes on a dyno to result in a final specification? It’s not a small number – what you see in the race cars is only the tip of a very large iceberg.
      How about all that marketing and merch garbage that is shipped all over the globe from the suppliers in China, with many of those base materials coming from other places…
      Even just with the logistics – the amount of mass and volume they are transporting is off the scale compared to most other human activities – and the worst part is that only a tiny percentage of it is actually necessary for F1 to function. They don’t need to be shipping bar stools and bain-maries to every event, but they have 3 or 4 such complete hospitality packs (multiple 40ft shipping containers full) for each team constantly on the move, ready to maintain their complete corporate visual branding and elite hospitality at every event.

      If you are donating so much money to environmental issues, perhaps it’s time to ask what it’s actually being spent on and what the results are. Throwing money at a problem doesn’t usually solve it – it just makes a handful of people wealthier.

      It really doesn’t matter what others are doing or who F1 does business with – what they can control is themselves.

      1. Exceptional post that clearly paints a much fuller picture of reality that is a refreshing change from the greenwashing marketing speak we hear.

  7. The question: Do they mind risking their lives doing protests? I have an impression that these people disregard safety. A youtube video popped up on my feed about them blocking an ambulance or a fire truck that had its sirens on I think. Last year, they entered the track on the first lap and I think they went on the track on the section cars were passing in the first few laps.

    1. @krichelle Some, I suspect, are happier about the prospect of being martyrs, dead fools or just plain dead than others. Also, thinking one is OK with such an idea this in a bedroom or discussion room doesn’t always mean continuing to think so in the cold light of day when actually doing the plan.

  8. I’m not sure what the purpose of these statements asking for protestors to not target the event is, other than the safety message as that is a genuine problem.

    Any protest action is about trying to get a message out to as wide an audience as possible and an F1 event provides that vehicle through global popularity and viewership. Any environmental programme that F1 may or may not have will probably be immaterial to any decision making on behalf of the protestors.

    Also any driver offering tacit support to the protestors (ie I like your message but not your methods) touting their environmental activism as a method of deflection will likely be eventually disappointed. These movements always l attract hardcore activists who always have aims and goals well beyond the original message, I would suspect that there is plenty of anti-western, anti-capitalist sentiment running through JSO. Stripback the environmental front and you will find the same anarchist undercurrent looking to unpick and challenge societal norms, many of which F1 and other sports fundamentally rely on to exist (eg private investment, property rights, law and order, banking institutions etc)

    In general it always makes me laugh when richer people who happily enjoy lifecycles wholly incompatible with the proported cause profess support for them thinking that they will somehow be exempt from any targeting as a result of fundamental superficial messaging and limited action on their behalf.

    1. Well rich people are not meaningful hit in the pocket if fuel prices increase 3x. They can still flying around.
      Lot’s of it is also the world human need of giving meaning to their lives after being rich. So they just hop in the fashion de jour.

    2. @chimaera2003 Two things: the safety aspect you mentioned, and trying to avoid avoidable red flags (note that in competitors’ view, people on track is always avoidable due to everyone being told on entry how important it is to stay away from places which could cause a red flag).

  9. Either George has been told to parrot this statement, or he’s not terribly bright.
    Just Stop Oil couldn’t care less about F1 “sustainability efforts.” Those initiatives are irrelevant and beside the point.
    JSO protests at Wimbledon, the Oval, Silverstone, Piccadilly Circus, wherever, to create news and exposure for their point of view. It doesn’t matter how much fossil fuel is consumed by F1, or not.

    1. He’s going for the “alienating allies” approach. In short, in George’s argument, F1’s helping to develop stuff that the Just Stop Oil group is going to need if it is going to meet its goal of using less (and eventually no) oil to power the world, and that certain types of protest make people less likely to support Just Stop Oil’s desires (thus F1’s initiatives, thus slowing or preventing the very things Just Stop Oil needs to get the world it wants).

      1. @alianora-la-canta This logic works if the end-goal of JSO was just that and you are right that JSO should get on board with what F1 are doing it if they are more interested in results and outcomes than rhetoric.

        However i highly doubt this is the case. I’m certain if you strip back the environmental facade you will find the same anti-western, anti-capitalism, anti-globalisation, anti-government sentiment present as with all other protest groups.

        1. @chimaera2003 I highly doubt it, considering there are at least three distinct groups of protestors that are willing to use disruptive measures to get what they want. Since two of those are aligned with (different) governments’ interests (one Western, one not), any given protest group can only be anti-some of those things you suggested at any given time.

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