Do you remember that time when there was a “lunatic on Hangar Straight” during the 2003 British Grand Prix? That was Cornelius Horan who was sentenced to two months in prison for sprinting on to a live track causing drivers to swerve to avoid him.
Do you remember that time when Greenpeace had protestors scale the main grandstand and then rappel off the front of the awning to unfurl a banner that said, “Arctic oil? Shell no!” Two hang gliders flew over the race with banners trailing and a sign was unfurled on the railing in front of the podium—apparently via some sort of remote control?
Greenpeace’s willingness to risk the safety of its members and fans by repelling off of grandstands and placing the drivers and personnel on the podium at risk of injury was unfortunate.
It seems this weekend’s British Grand Prix may be facing a similar threat with local police issuing a statement:
“We have received credible intelligence that a group of protestors are planning to disrupt the event and possibly invade the track on race day,” he said. “First of all, I want to appeal directly to this group of people and strongly urge you to not put yourselves, the drivers, as well as the many marshals, volunteers and members of the public, at risk.
“Going onto a live racetrack is extremely dangerous – if you go ahead with this reckless plan you are jeopardizing lives. Protesting is of course everyone’s human right in this country and we are more than happy to speak with you to help you facilitate a peaceful protest at the circuit, we just please ask that you do not create a situation that puts lives in danger.”
I don’t know what the cause is but there is a fine line between trying to capitalize on a global event for exposure and putting themselves, drivers, marshals and others at risk. In fact, it’s unacceptable.
Let’s hope calmer heads prevail and any protests would be coordinated with the local police and not dangerous to participants in the protest or anyone else during the race.