Lewis Hamilton defended a group of ‘Just Stop Oil’ protesters who took to the track at Silverstone during Sunday’s British Grand Prix, but Formula 1 and Ferrari race winner Carlos Sainz said that they had put the pilots and their own lives in danger. Protesters raced onto the track after a massive first lap crash halted the race, but as cars were still moving.
Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali said they had been “totally stupid”. “You can protest all you want, it’s freedom of speech – but it’s really something… ridiculous, that’s the least I can say,” the Italian told Sky Sports TV .
British police had earlier said they had credible intelligence of a plan to disrupt the race. “I don’t know what the protest was for,” seven-time world champion Hamilton, who finished third for Mercedes, told reporters after initially saying “hugs to these guys”.
“I love people fighting for the planet and we need more people like them.” Sainz said he saw them running towards him and initially thought the run was flagged because of their action.
“Obviously people have to speak out and demonstrate where they want because it’s a right,” the Spaniard said. “I just don’t think jumping onto a Formula 1 track is the best way to do it and put yourself and all the other drivers in danger.”
Mercedes, which is sponsored by oil company Petronas and chemicals giant Ineos, later said Hamilton was not fully aware of the situation. “Lewis approved of their right to protest, but not the method they had chosen, which jeopardized their safety and that of others.”
A statement on www.juststopoil.org says protesters are demanding an immediate halt to new oil and gas projects in the UK. With some 142,000 spectators descending on the circuit, located 90 minutes from London, the race is one of the sporting highlights of the British summer and has in the past attracted protesters.
Two years ago, police arrested four people after protesters unfurled a banner for climate action group Extinction Rebellion during the British Grand Prix. The race was then closed to spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2003, Silverstone was the scene of one of Formula 1’s most bizarre and infamous protests when a man in a kilt ran down the track waving a banner saying: ‘Read the Bible, the Bible is always right.”
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)