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F1 protestors did enough to get us talking. But were they right or wrong?

By Tom Gibson | July 5, 2022

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Hamilton, Vettel and Lineker seemed to have sympathy for them at the very least, whereas others were less forthcoming.

F1 protestors did enough to get us talking. But were they right or wrong?

An electric British GP at Silverstone had millions of viewers and over 140,00 in attendance glued to the edge of their seats as the best racing drivers in the world put on a spectacular show.

After the race, much of the discussion turned to the protestors from Just Stop Oil. Seven of them ran onto the track to protest the government’s exploration, development and production of fossil fuels - like oil, gas and coal.

There’s a separate debate to be had on whether that’s the right thing to do, but here I’d like to chat about whether taking to an F1 track – during lap one – is the place to do it.

Fortunately for the protestors, drivers and marshals, the race was red-flagged after Guanyu Zhou’s horrific accident at the start which he was very lucky to walk away from.

I say fortunately, as the race had effectively been stopped so the cars could meander back to the pit lane at low speed.

Without this red flag, 20 cars would’ve been hurtling down the Hangar Straight at around 180mph, 19 of them being unsighted of the protesting seven who were blocking the road.

This would’ve been carnage make no mistake.

When a village lost their idiot in 2003 who went on track at the same place asking us all to read the bible, you can see just how late some of the cars see him who had their views blocked by other cars

Bear in mind that this was a way into the race, not on the first lap where each car would’ve been well under a second from the one in front and they may even have been two or three abreast.

F1 drivers themselves are virtually sat on the floor too. They cannot see past the car in front if it is directly ahead of them.

If any of the drivers were able to slam on or swerve to avoid, they would’ve been putting themselves the fans and the marshals in huge danger as run-off areas on the straight are rightly non-existent.

Fences to the spectators are short and thin and I’d have dreaded to see what would’ve happened.

Mr Lineker seemingly took a rather different standpoint as you can see in his tweet, although Martin Brundle seemed to have much more support in correcting him.

Elsewhere, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali called the protesters "completely irresponsible and dangerous" and said their actions "put lives in danger".

Four-time World Champion, Sebastien Vettel, said: "I think 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.

"On the other hand, I see the other side. There's marshals trying to stop people from doing these kind of things. You're risking people that are involved in the race weekend, drivers, marshals.

"So there's two sides. I think the message was very clear and like I said, I completely sympathise with their fears and anxieties."

Lewis Hamilton said he was glad people were "fighting for the planet", but issued a later message stressing the need for protests to be safe.

"As we've seen today, this is a very dangerous sport," Hamilton wrote on Instagram, referring to Zhou's crash.

"I wasn't aware of the protest today, and while I'll always support those standing up for what they believe in, it must be done safely.

"Please don't jump onto our race circuits to protest, we don't want to put you in harm's way."

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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