Lewis Hamilton has defended “Just Stop Oil” protestors who stormed the F1 tracks at Silverstone over the weekend.
But Ferrari Race winner Carlos Sainz said they had put drivers and their own lives at risk, and Formula One head Stefano Domenicali said they had been “totally stupid” according to Reuters.
Video has emerged of the protestors having run onto the track during the race, which had already seen a major crash in its opening lap.
After initially saying “big up those guys”, seven-times world champion Hamilton told reporters “I don’t know what the protest was for”.
“I love that people are fighting for the planet and we need more people like them”, he added.
I have yet to hear one person who says "there are better ways to protest" describe a better way to protest. The world has been terminally destabilised by the fossil-fuelled status-quo. The non-rich majority, the young and the wildlife are paying a perilous price. #F1 #JustStopOil https://t.co/Vmk6HW4nc0
— wigby (@Wigby) July 3, 2022
Mercedes, sponsored by Petronas and Ineos, later issued a statement saying Hamilton was not aware of the situation.
It said the driver was endorsing the right to protest but not the method they chose “which compromised their safety and that of others”.
Earlier in the day, Northants Police issued a statement saying it had “credible intelligence” a protest would take place and urged those planning it “not put yourselves, the drivers, as well as the many marshals, volunteers & members of the public, at risk”.
We strongly urge you to not put yourselves, the drivers, as well as the many marshals, volunteers & members of the public, at risk.
Going onto a live racetrack is extremely dangerous – if you go ahead with this reckless plan you're jeopardising lives.
— Northants Police (@NorthantsPolice) July 1, 2022
The Just Stop Oil group said the protest was held to ensure “no new oil in the UK” and to highlight “government inaction” on the issue.
Stefano Domenicali told Sky Sports: “”You can protest whatever you want, it’s freedom to speak — but this is really something… ridiculous, this is the minimum I can say.”
Sainz, who won the race, highlighted the importance of freedom of speech but added: “I just don’t believe jumping into a Formula One track is the best way to do it and putting yourself at risk and all the other drivers.”
At the start of the race, Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was flipped upside down at 160mph, but was saved by the halo which sits on top of cockpits, a feature brought into the sport in 2018.