Four held after climate protest at British Formula One Grand Prix

by Reuters
Sunday, 2 August 2020 18:23 GMT

Formula One F1 - British Grand Prix - Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone, Britain - August 2, 2020 McLaren's Lando Norris in action during the race Pool via REUTERS/Bryn Lennon

Image Caption and Rights Information

Protesters held up an Extinction Rebellion banner during the race even though it was closed to spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic

By Alan Baldwin

SILVERSTONE, England, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Police said they arrested four people on Sunday after protesters displayed a banner for climate action group Extinction Rebellion during the British Formula One Grand Prix.

Northamptonshire Police and Silverstone circuit said the four were detained by security inside the venue perimeter. "Officers are working closely with Silverstone Circuit and conducting a full investigation," they said.

The race was closed to spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Extinction Rebellion UK posted a picture of the banner on Twitter and the words: "Today at the #BritishGP we sent a message: #ActNow this is a #ClimateEmergency and we're way off track."

They also issued a statement explaining that they had decided to send "a clear message" to television viewers rather than interrupt the race, won by six-times world champion Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes.

It quoted the British driver, a vegan who has been outspoken on environmental issues, as saying "we all have a responsibility to tackle climate change."

The statement said some of the four had worn "Black Lives Matter" armbands in solidarity with a gesture by Hamilton, the sport's only Black driver, and Formula One before the race as part of an anti-racism campaign.

"The climate struggle and the anti-racist movement are deeply connected," it said.

Formula One issued a sustainability plan last year with the aim of achieving a net zero-carbon footprint for the sport by 2030.

It has also promised that all Formula One events would be sustainable by 2025, with all waste reused or recycled and single-use plastics barred.

The sport has been targeted by protesters previously, with Greenpeace activists targeting the Belgian Grand Prix in 2013 to protest title sponsor Shell's oil exploration activities in the Arctic.

The British Grand Prix was famously interrupted in 2003 when a former Irish priest ran onto the track, causing cars to swerve.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; editing by John Stonestreet and Christian Radnedge)