F1 British GP track invasion could be “extremely dangerous”, warns Russell

George Russell warns of “extremely dangerous” consequences should protestors invade the track during Formula 1’s 2023 British Grand Prix, while police have created a “ring of steel” around Silverstone.

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

Five people jumped the barriers on the opening lap of the 2022 race but an early red flag for the Zhou Guanyu rollover at Turn 1 meant the field slowed by the time they arrived at the protestors from environmental activist group Just Stop Oil on the Wellington Straight.

In total, six were found guilty of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance and were served with various sentences: up to 12 months in person, suspended, being ordered to serve community orders and fulfil unpaid work requirements.

Recently, Just Stop Oil has also carried out protests at Wimbledon, the Chelsea Flower Show, the Ashes and the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield. Northamptonshire Police has issued a warning to anyone planning to commit unlawful activity at the British GP this weekend.

Mercedes driver Russell says that a possible track invasion would be “irresponsible and extremely dangerous” for drivers, motorsport marshals, event stewards and the protestors.

He said: “We put our trust and faith in F1 and Silverstone and the FIA.

“I feel that we’re all open and free to cast our views but doing it on a live Formula 1 track is pretty irresponsible and extremely dangerous for whoever the protestors are. But not only them - the drivers, the marshals who will potentially be running after people.

“I’d also encourage these protestors to look at the good that Formula 1 is doing on a sustainability perspective. We’re going to 100% sustainable fuels in the future.

"As a sport, as teams, as individuals we’re doing a huge push on the sustainability front and I think it would only be fair for them to have a look and see what we’re doing, even open conversations with us before recklessly running onto a circuit when we’re driving past at 200mph.”

The Wing

The Wing

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

F1 reports that 480,000 people will attend the event. Extra resources have been made available to deal with the threat, including uniformed officers, plain-clothes detectives, armed officers, volunteers, and community support officers. The police also have greater powers under the Public Order Act 2023.

With these measures, Northamptonshire Police event commander detective superintendent Richard Tompkins says a “ring of steel” will be erected around the circuit permitter.

He said: “We have a robust policing plan in place for this year’s event and there will effectively be a ring of steel around the circuit with additional officers on duty to manage any incident.

“Northamptonshire Police respects the long-standing right of the public to engage in peaceful protest, but when lives are endangered, and criminal acts are committed, including significant disorder or disruption to the law-abiding public, local community, and businesses, we will intervene and promptly make arrests.”

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Tompkins added that the police will help “facilitate” a peaceful protest and has called all race-going fans to help the event run uninterrupted.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to appeal directly to anyone who is planning to attend Silverstone to invade the track or cause any other unlawful disruption to this event," he said.

“We are more than happy to speak with you to help facilitate a peaceful protest and want to avoid a repeat of the reckless actions at last year’s event which put lives in danger.

“Finally, with more than 450,000 extra pairs of eyes at the venue over the four days, we would like help from the public to ensure that everyone attending the race event leaves the venue having had a crime-free, safe, and enjoyable experience.”

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