The opening lap of the British Grand Prix was terrifying to say the least, after rookie Guanyu Zhou suffered one of the worst crashes in the history of the sport, where he slid upside down through the gravel trap before flipping over the barrier.
Zhou’s crash obviously brought out an immediate red flag, with the Chinese driver’s car having come to a halt on its side between the catch-fencing and the tyre barrier.
However, it turns out that even if Zhou hadn’t crashed, a red flag would’ve been flown anyway, as activists stormed onto the circuit.
Six protesters stormed onto the Wellington straight on the opening lap, where thankfully the cars weren’t at full speed due to the red flag.
A number of drivers couldn’t believe what they were seeing, including, race winner Carlos Sainz who believed jumping onto the circuit wasn’t the “right way” of fighting climate change.
“I just don’t believe jumping onto an F1 track is the right way to do it,” Sainz said.
“Yes, I support the cause, but I don’t think that’s the right way to protest. You could generate an accident.”
The six involved were arrested at the circuit immediately on July 3 and have now all appeared in front of a Crown Court judge.
David Baldwin, 46, Emily Brocklebank, 23, Alasdair Gibson, 21, Louis McKechnie, 21, Bethany Mogie, 40, and Joshua Smith, 29, have all been charged with conspiracy to cause public nuisance.
At a previous court hearing, it came to light that they made their way onto the circuit wearing orange tracksuits, similar to what marshals’ wear.
However, their tracksuits read ‘Just Stop Oil’, in support of their climate campaign.
Two of the protesters were remanded into custody, with them having a plea hearing at the start of October, whereas the other four have been granted bail.
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali was furious when the protesters stormed onto the circuit, with the former Ferrari team principal labelling the activists as “totally stupid”.
“Totally irresponsible,” Domenicali told Sky Sports.
“People can protest something by voice, but running the risk on a track, jeopardising and having the really serious stuff for the drivers and themselves is totally stupid.
“This is not acceptable, you can protest whatever you want, there is freedom to speak, but this is really ridiculous.”
Whilst Domenicalli found the invasion “irresponsible”, Sir Lewis Hamilton “loved” seeing the protesters fight.
The seven-time World Champion “loved that people are fighting for the planet and we need more people like them”.
The Mercedes F1 Team were forced to clarify on what Hamilton meant, with the Brit somewhat suggesting he supported the protesters putting their lives at risk.
“Lewis was endorsing their right to protest but not the method that they chose, which compromised their safety and that of others,” Mercedes confirmed.
After speaking to Sky Sports, Domenicali then released an official statement, where he praised the police for the way they dealt with what could’ve been a deadly scenario.
“Everyone has the right to speak out on issues, but no one has the right to put lives in danger. The actions of a small group of people today were completely irresponsible and dangerous.
“We thank the police for their great work and we shouldn’t be complacent about the risk this posed to the safety of the drivers, marshals, fans and the individuals themselves.”
Event Commander, chief inspector Tom Thompson, was “really disappointed” with the climate activists.
Silverstone had tried to offer the trespassers a way of protesting peacefully, with the activists instead choosing to put not only their lives at risk, but also the police officers, marshals and drivers.
“I’m really disappointed that this group of people ignored our warnings prior to race-day and made the incredibly dangerous decision to enter the track,” said Thompson.
“We offered to facilitate a peaceful event at the circuit, but they instead chose to put the lives of the drivers, marshals and volunteers at risk. It is incredibly disappointing that anyone would make the decision to do this.
“Thankfully we had plans in place for an eventuality such as this and the group were swiftly removed and arrested by our officers.