Drivers concerned by prospect of more protests at Silverstone

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A number of Formula 1 drivers have expressed concern about a potential track invasion from Just Stop Oil protesters at this weekend’s British Grand Prix.

Last year’s race at Silverstone saw protesters storm the track on the opening lap of the race, but combined with Zhou Guanyu’s crash the red flag had been thrown before the field reached the activists. There have been recent interruptions in the United Kingdom at Wimbledon this week as well as The Ashes cricket test at Lords in London, and Alex Albon believes the Formula 1 race is likely to be targeted again.

“I think, obviously, there is possibly quite a high chance of something happening this weekend,” Albon said. “We just have to wait and see and obviously more than anything, with the sport that we do, it is a bit of a concern because… a pitch invasion is one thing but with cars and moving parts, all this kind of thing, it gets a bit more dangerous to some extent.

“We’re still yet to have a meeting with the FIA over what would happen in that circumstance. But we just have to be prepared for it.”

Lewis Hamilton has also warned protesters against entering a live racetrack and says the fact F1 has been working towards a net zero target in response to the climate crisis shows the cause is one that is actively supported.

“We’ve not yet spoken with the FIA in terms of what you’d have to do but naturally, we’re really hoping that we’ve learned a lot from last year’s experience and that it won’t happen this weekend,” Hamilton said. “I believe we have 100 more marshals this weekend which are there to be supportive and make sure it doesn’t happen as well.

“At least for me, my perspective and my team’s, we are very, very focused on sustainability. We believe in what people are fighting for. We are making those changes as a sport. But safety is key — we don’t want to put anyone in harm’s way, we don’t want to put anyone else in harm’s way. If there is one (protest), we hope that it’s not going to be on track.”

George Russell echoed his Mercedes teammate’s comments, saying both the risks involved and F1’s future plans need to be taken into account when it comes to methods of protesting.

“We put our trust in F1, the FIA and Silverstone, the marshals, to stop people running onto the track,” Russell said. “I feel that we’re all open and free to cast our views to do it on track is irresponsible and dangerous for the protesters but also the drivers.

“I’d also encourage these protesters to look at the good that F1 is doing from a sustainability perspective. We are going to 100 percent sustainable fuels in the future. We’ve done a huge push on the sustainability front and I think it would be fair for them to have a look at what we’re doing and even have open conversations with us before recklessly running onto a circuit when we’re driving past at 200mph.”

On top of the extra marshals, the British Grand Prix organizers have increased security at entry into the circuit for the race weekend in response to the threat.