The protesters who stormed Sunday’s British Grand Prix remain in police custody after Formula One boss Stefano Domenicali labelled their actions as “dangerous and irresponsible”.
Five men, aged between 21 and 46, and two women, 20 and 44, were arrested after the terrifying track invasion on the opening lap at Silverstone.
Although the incident was not shown on F1’s global television feed, eyewitness footage emerged of five people – understood to be representing climate activist group, Just Stop Oil – entering the circuit at the high-speed Wellington Straight. They then sat down on the tarmac.
The race had just been suspended following Zhou Guanyu’s horror first-corner crash, but a number of drivers sped by the quintet as they returned to the pits. The protesters were swiftly dragged away by marshals.
In his post-race press conference, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton defended the activists.
He said: “Big up those guys. Big up the protesters.
“I love that people are fighting for the planet and we need more people like them.”
Later on Instagram, the 37-year-old wrote: “As we’ve seen today, this is a dangerous sport.
“I wasn’t aware of the protests today, and while I’ll always support those standing up for what they believe in, it must be done safely.
“Please don’t jump on to our race circuits to protest, we don’t want to put you in harm’s way.”
F1 bosses and Silverstone officials had been alerted to a protest plot in the days leading up to the race by Northamptonshire Police. It remains unclear how the protesters managed to breach security lines.
F1 CEO Domenicali said: “Everyone has the right to speak out on issues, but no one has the right to put lives in danger.
“The actions of a small group of people were completely irresponsible and dangerous.
“We shouldn’t be complacent about the risk this posed to the safety of the drivers, marshals, fans and the individuals themselves.”
But four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, an environmental campaigner, expressed his sympathy towards the activists.
He said: “These people don’t act out of frustration, but they are desperate, and I very much sympathise with their fears and their anxieties which I think everybody who understands the size of the problem that’s drifting towards us can understand.
“I also see the other side. Marshals are trying to stop people from doing these kind of things, and you are putting them, and the drivers, at risk.”