Just Stop Oil protestors storm the track at Silverstone

Just Stop Oil protestors on the tracks at Silverstone. (Photo © Just Stop Oil / Twitter)

THE hotly anticipated British Grand Prix at Silverstone was interrupted by environmental protesters when several individuals from the Just Stop Oil group managed to get onto the track at Silverstone during the first lap of the Grand Prix. In this article, we’ll take a look at what happened and the response to the incident.

Excitement at Silverstone

Silverstone has hosted every British Grand Prix since 1987 and the Formula One world was looking forward to the highly-anticipated British Grand Prix, which had a record-breaking turnout of over 340,000 fans – the highest number of spectators for any race in the season. 

First Lap Chaos

The race was thrown into chaos on the first lap when there was an incident on the first bend resulting in a red flag. Zhou Guanyu, driving for Alfa Romeo crashed on the first bend and was flipped upside down. He hit the barriers at high speed, with spectators and photographers seen ducking for cover before the car came to a stop in the catch fencing, where his car remained lodged between the tyre wall and fence.

Mercedes’ George Russell and Williams’ Alex Albon were also caught up in the alarming accident at the start of the race. Fortunately, all three drivers escaped without serious injuries.

Following the red flag, Just Stop Oil protestors found their way onto the track posing more danger and chaos to the opening lap at Silverstone. At this point, the race had been suspended, however, a number of race cars still passed the protestors on the track at speed on their way back to the pit.

Reactions to the Incident

Formula One boss, Stefano Domenicali labelled the actions of the protestors as “dangerous and irresponsible.” Spanish driver and first-time Grand Prix winner Carlos Sainz agreed, saying that people have the right to speak out but that he didn’t agree with the way they did it.

However, Mercedes driver, Lewis Hamilton who came third in the race, expressed his support for the protestors, saying he loved to see people fighting for the planet and that more people need to do so.

Despite support for the protestors’ message, all seven individuals were arrested and taken into custody. Regardless of whether F1 organisers agree with the actions of these particular climate activists, pressure to reduce the impact of the sport on the environment can’t be ignored.

In many sectors, climate change has prioritised environmental social and governance and motorsport is no different. Formula One has previously committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030. This is an ambitious goal given the 2019 report it released, which revealed that the sport creates around 256,000 tons of CO2 each season. Many have praised the sport’s efforts and commitment to reducing its impact on the environment, however, others believe change isn’t happening as quickly as it should.

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