The wonder of Greenpeace's protests at the Belgian Grand Prix against title sponsor Shell and the oil company's exploration activities was not the planning or nature of the high-profile stunts, but simply the fact that it has taken six decades for such a body to attack what is hardly an eco-friendly pastime. Even then it was not the event itself that was targeted, but its commercial partner.
Whether or not Greenpeace actually achieved its aim of embarrassing Shell by bringing the plight of Arctic life to the notice of the sport's hundreds of millions of followers is utterly debatable, for the most viewers saw was a slight hiccup during the podium ceremony, when two banners popped up momentarily before being hurriedly taken down by Formula One Management personnel.
Had the environmental body undertaken diligent research into its targeted activity it would soon have realised that FOM's vertical integration enables it to control every aspect of a grand prix, including broadcast rights and Formula 1 copyright.
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South African-born Dieter trained as industrial engineer before holding down a variety of senior motor industry marketing and manufacturing positions. At the age of 40 he decided to follow his passion, and became the first and only South African journalist to cover Formula 1 regularly. Dieter joined AtlasF1 at the beginning of 2004 – a year prior to its merger with Autosport – and his regular column offers an intriguing analysis of F1’s politicking and commercial chicanery. Although now also proudly Belgian, he gives his domicile as "Wherever F1 duplicity lurks".@RacingLines More features by Dieter Rencken