Protesters storm Silverstone track in dramatic start to British Grand Prix
Protesters stormed the track at Silverstone in a chaotic opening to this year's British Grand Prix.
Police had warned in advance that they feared the "extremely dangerous" protest had been planned, but warnings failed to stop the group, who appeared to rush on once the race had been red flagged following a dramatic multiple-car crash earlier on the opening lap.
The main concern was for the condition of Alfa Romeo driver Zhou Guanyu who flipped upside down as a result of the crashes, sliding at speed on his Halo safety device before coming to rest over the wrong side of the tyre barrier. As a result the race was immediately stopped, with Zhou eventually extracted from the car and taken to the medical centre, remarkably without any serious injuries.
Officials confirmed that those who stormed the fence, and entered the track to sit on the Wellingston straight between turns five and six, had been "immediately" removed (watch video below). Seven arrests were made over the demonstration.
Video of the protestors invading the track during the first lap.
If there hadn’t have been a red flag for the crash, this could have been horrific for many people. #BritishGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/8HaGmoFLNn
— Helèna Hicks (@_HelenaHicks) July 3, 2022
Just Stop Oil, the Extinction Rebellion-linked group which recently targeted Premier League matches, said its supporters had staged the protest.
"A group of supporters of Just Stop Oil have stormed the track at #BritishGP2022," the group tweeted. "If you are more outraged about this disruption than our world being burnt before our eyes, then you need to get your priorities straight."
The campaign is masterminded by the strategist behind Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain, Roger Hallam. Its self-declared initial aim is an immediate end to new fossil-fuel investments, and it has been actively recruiting those prepared to engage in “civil disobedience”.
An F1 spokesman told Sky Sports following the track invasion: "We can confirm that after the red flag several people attempted to enter the track. These people were immediately removed and the matter is now being dealt with by the local authorities."