Silverstone boss fears for British GP amid wave of protests

Extinction Rebellion acitivists and the Police. 02.08.2020. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, British Grand Prix, Silverstone, England, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Dungan / XPB Images
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The boss of Silverstone is concerned that this summer's British GP could once again be targeted by political protestors, as waves of direct action sweep high-profile events in the UK and around the world.

Six environmental activists succeeded in breaching track security at the start of last year's race and even made it onto the Wellington Straight, although by then the race had already been red flagged due to an unrelated accident.

Three of those involved were subsequently handed suspended prison sentences, while the others received community orders and orders to complete unpaid work as punishments.

Guanyu Zhou (CHN) Alfa Romeo F1 Team C42; George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W13; and Alexander Albon (THA) Williams Racing FW44 crashed at the start of the race.
03.07.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10, British Grand Prix, Silverstone, England, Race Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

More recently, there was a security breach at the Australian GP. Protestors managed to delay the start of last week's Grand National, while a demonstrator disrupted the World Snooker Championship by throwing orange powder on the table.

With more protests hitting Saturday's Scottish Grand National, there have been fears that further action could be directed against today's London Marathon and May's coronation procession for King Charles III.

Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle said that such high-profile sporting and open air events such as the upcoming Open golf championship and the British GP are also firmly in the protestors' sights over the summer.

"Obviously there are lessons to be learned," he told, reflecting in last year's disturbance. "We've done a massive internal review post-last year. We're working closely with the police again."

"Both our fencing and crowd stewards are significantly different to Australia. We have been way more advanced," he insisted, adding that he and his team were determined to "make sure people's fun is not spoilt again".

"We know that people have tried to cable tie themselves to goals in football games," he continued, referring to another action taken by protestors in March at a Premier League match between Everton and Newcastle United.

"Sports venues as a whole are relatively speaking softish targets with quite a high reward for the risk that the individuals are taking on. It's just something we have to deal with as sports promoters.

Police on the circuit at the start of the race as an incident involving people attempting to enter the circuit.
03.07.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10, British Grand Prix, Silverstone, England, Race Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

"They're only doing it because there's a hundred million people watching around the world," he said. "It's people knowing there's lots of eyeballs on sports. Where else can you do it?"

Silverstone has had to deal with more benign track invasions in the past, including 1987 when crowds surged onto the track to celebrate Nigel Mansell's win despite cars still travelling back to pit lane at speed.

"Frankly, since '87 and people hopping over the fence to embrace Nige, we've been pretty on that," Pringle stated.

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