Protesters facing prison sentence after endangering F1 drivers

The 2022 British Grand Prix was red flagged moments after it got underway, after Zhou Guanyu suffered a horrific crash.

The Just Stop Oil protesters who stormed onto the Silverstone International Circuit on the opening lap of last season’s British Grand Prix have all been convicted following a two-week trial and will be sentenced on March 31.

Of the six members convicted, Emily Brocklebank, 24, Alasdair Gibson, 22, Louis McKechnie, 22, Bethany Mogie, 40, and Joshua Smith, 29, were the five in particular who broke onto the circuit and sat down the Wellington Straight, much to the shock of passing drivers.

The sixth member to be convicted, David Baldwin, 47, had glued himself to a nearby circuit carpark, whilst holding a Just Stop Oil banner.

Their decision to storm onto a live circuit was ridiculous and completely idiotic; however, it can be argued that their lives were perhaps saved by the race having been red flagged almost immediately after it got underway, after Zhou Guanyu barrel-rolled over the barrier at Turn One.

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Remarkably, all six of the members denied to causing a public nuisance and denied the claims put forward by the prosecution, that they’d risked the lives of themselves, the drivers, and the marshals.

The protesters defended that their dangerous act followed a “meticulous” safety plan and only started when the red flag was flown.

Interestingly, one of the convicted members, McKechnie, has a history of causing disruption at a professional sporting event.

McKechnie previously tied himself to a goalpost at a Premier League football game and glued himself to a Van Gogh painting in London last summer, alongside Brocklebank.

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When revealing the jury’s decision, prosecutor Simon Jones said, as reported by Sky Sports: “The prosecution say that there was clearly an immediate risk of serious harm being caused. Plainly they could have been struck by fast-moving vehicles with obvious severe consequences.

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“We say that that their actions also caused risk to the drivers themselves and the marshals.”

Mr Justice Garnham later told the activists’ barristers: “All of them should understand and be in no doubt that I will be considering all possible options when it comes to sentence, and that includes the possibility of a prison sentence.”

Given what happened it can be presumed that additional security will be seen at the British Grand Prix in the forthcoming season, to prevent what could’ve potentially been a truly dark day for motorsport.