Australian Grand Prix organisers have identified a group of fans that breached the track at the end of the race earlier this month in Melbourne, and who now risk a ban from sporting events in the future.
In a first for F1, a representative of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, the promoter of the event at Albert Park, was summoned to the Stewards after the race to answer to a breach of security and to a track invasion that took place.
As race winner Max Verstappen and the field of cars made their way past the checkered flag under the safety car regime "a large group of spectators managed to break the security lines and accessed the track while the race was still ongoing," according to a report from the FIA.
Furthermore, "a large group of spectators" was also able to approach the stranded Haas car of Nico Hulkenberg which had stopped out on the track at Turn 2 during the in-lap, with the vehicle in an "unsafe condition" as it "still had its light flashing red".
This was a clear breach of Article 12.2.1.h of the International Sporting Code. The FIA subsequently requested that the promoter "urgently present a formal remediation plan to the FIA".
Following an inquiry by the oragnisers, the latter have identified six individuals of interest, whose photos have been passed submitted to the Victoria state police for further investigations.
"We'll look at the powers we and Victoria police have under the major sporting events act that we operate under, as well as the Grand Prix act," explained Tom Mottram, the general operations manager of the event in a meeting with the media as he alluded to possible sanctions.
"Once the floodgates opened, unfortunately you’ve got to kind of run with it and manage it accordingly. But we've identified five or six persons of interest who breached the track early, and we want to be talking to them.
"It's not something we will ever tolerate or accept, and people need to realise this was a very dangerous undertaking that occurred.
"We'll find out what was the understanding or motive, and whether it's something they did with malicious intent or they subconsciously found themselves in that position.
"I wouldn't want to jump to any conclusions until we’ve had an opportunity to chat to them."
Mottram admitted that "crowd dynamics" at sporting events and fan behaviour had changed post Covid, with many underestimating the inherent dangers of breaching safety protocols.
"What we're essentially finding is post-COVID, crowd behaviours and crowd dynamics have really changed for us," Mottram added.
"Our early findings already suggest our motorsport crowd in the past has been a compliant crowd, if I can put it that way.
"We're certainly finding in the post-COVID environment, we've got new and young fans that have come to the event, and they're not quite understanding the unsafe nature and dangers they put themselves in when they undertake these types of things.
"It almost feels like they think it's similar to running onto the [Sydney Cricket Ground] when [Australian rules footballer] Buddy Franklin kicked his 1000th goal. It's certainly not the same.
"We want to have culture vultures and young event goers that are there for the event as a whole, and not just the racing on track. So, it's a double-edged sword for us.
"It is something we're looking at from more of a contributing factor point of view."