Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time Formula 1 world champion, has expressed his support for peaceful climate protests but urged demonstrators to avoid putting themselves at risk during the British Grand Prix.
Hamilton’s remarks come in the wake of recent protests that disrupted major sporting events in England, including the Ashes cricket tournament and Wimbledon.
Just Stop Oil track invasion
Last year the sport saw a track invasion by ‘Just Stop Oil’ campaign during the first lap of the British Grand Prix. The six climate crisis protesters who invaded the track during the British Grand Prix last year have avoided jail sentences in a court hearing last March, despite the risks posed to Formula One drivers and marshals.
Louis McKechnie, Emily Brocklebank, and Bethany Mogie, members of the Just Stop Oil campaign, were among a group of five protesters who were forcibly removed from the Silverstone circuit as two Formula One cars raced by. At the Northampton Crown Court on Friday, the three were given suspended jail sentences.
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Mr. Justice Garnham also imposed 12-month community orders on David Baldwin, Alasdair Gibson, and Joshua Smith, who were also involved in the track invasion. The court recognized the severity of the incident, acknowledging the potential for “serious harm” to both the drivers and marshals present during the British Grand Prix.
While the protesters have been spared imprisonment, the judge’s decision to hand out suspended sentences and community orders serves as a warning about the consequences of their actions. The invasion of the track during a high-speed race not only endangered their own lives but also posed a significant risk to the safety of those involved in the event.
It is felt that this will not have put off more protestors this year during the 2023 British Grand Prix.
Hamilton supports peaceful protesting
Highlighting the importance of safety, Hamilton mentioned the increased presence of marshals at Silverstone to prevent a repeat of the incident that occurred during last year’s event. Six environmental activists managed to breach security and demonstrate on the track, leading to concerns about potential dangers.
While acknowledging his support for the environmental cause, Hamilton emphasized the need to ensure the safety of all involved. “Safety is key, and we don’t want anyone to be in danger,” he stated during a press conference.
“I think we have 100 more marshals this weekend to make sure that doesn’t happen,” but “We are very focused on sustainability. We believe in what people are fighting for”, argues the seven-time Formula 1 world champion
More drivers state their opinions
During the press conference, the drivers discussed the issue of protests, expressing their opposition to dangerous demonstration methods. Lando Norris, McLaren driver, criticized the risks associated with entering the track and called it a “stupid” and “selfish” act.
Norris advocated for safer methods of protest that do not endanger lives saying: “There are many other, much safer ways of attracting as much attention. I support it as long as they do it in the right way,”
Oscar Piastri, Norris’s teammate, echoed these sentiments, emphasizing that attending a circuit with cars speeding at 300 km/h is not the appropriate approach.
“Going to a circuit with cars coming at you at 300 km/h is not the right way to go about it.”
While the drivers expressed support for demonstrations, they stressed the importance of conducting them in a safe manner that avoids potential harm. They encouraged activists to explore alternative means of raising awareness and attracting attention to their cause.
Only time will tell if a track invasion can be stopped or if protestors will heed the drivers’ warnings.