Lewis Hamilton leaps to defence of British Grand Prix protesters: 'Big up those guys'

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Aden-Jay Wood

By Aden-Jay Wood

Published: 04/07/2022

- 11:29

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 10:53

Hamilton later said he 'supported' the protests, but added that 'it must be done safely'

Lewis Hamilton has leaped to the defence of protestors who stormed Sunday’s British Grand Prix.

Five men, aged between 21 and 46, and two women, 20 and 44, were arrested after the terrifying track invasion on the opening lap at Silverstone.

Although the incident was not shown on F1’s global television feed, eyewitness footage emerged of five people – understood to be representing climate activist group, Just Stop Oil – entering the circuit at the high-speed Wellington Straight. They then sat down on the tarmac.

The race had just been suspended following Zhou Guanyu’s horror first-corner crash, but a number of drivers sped by the protesters as they returned to the pits.

Formula One F1 - Miami Grand Prix - Miami International Autodrome, Miami, Florida, U.S. - May 6, 2022  Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton before practice REUTERS/Ricardo Arduengo
Lewis Hamilton

The protesters were swiftly dragged away by marshals.

And in his post-race press conference, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton defended the activists after admitting he didn't see them on the track.

He said: “Big up those guys. Big up the protesters.

“I love that people are fighting for the planet and we need more people like them.”

Later on Instagram, the 37-year-old clarified his comments: “As we’ve seen today, this is a dangerous sport.

“I wasn’t aware of the protests today, and while I’ll always support those standing up for what they believe in, it must be done safely.

Rookie Guanyu Zhou was stretchered away from an incident on the first lap
Rookie Guanyu Zhou was stretchered away from an incident on the first lap

“Please don’t jump on to our race circuits to protest, we don’t want to put you in harm’s way.”

The protesters remain in police custody after Formula One boss Stefano Domenicali labelled their actions as “dangerous and irresponsible”.

F1 bosses and Silverstone officials had been alerted to a protest plot in the days leading up to the race by Northamptonshire Police. It remains unclear how the protesters managed to breach security lines.

Mr Domenicali said: “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 were completely irresponsible and dangerous.

“We shouldn’t be complacent about the risk this posed to the safety of the drivers, marshals, fans and the individuals themselves.”

But four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, an environmental campaigner, expressed his sympathy towards the activists.

He said: “These people don’t act out of frustration, but they are desperate, and I very much sympathise with their fears and their anxieties which I think everybody who understands the size of the problem that’s drifting towards us can understand.

“I also see the other side. Marshals are trying to stop people from doing these kind of things, and you are putting them, and the drivers, at risk.”

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