'Dangerous' eco protesters storm track at British GP after '3-car pile-up' halts race

3 July 2022, 15:51 | Updated: 3 July 2022, 19:47

Eco protesters stormed the track and were dragged out the way of oncoming cars
Eco protesters stormed the track and were dragged out the way of oncoming cars. Picture: Twitter @JustConnon/Just Stop Oil

By Daisy Stephens

Eco protesters stormed the track at the British Grand Prix shortly after a three-car pile up halted the race.

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Five activists from Just Stop Oil forced their way onto the 200mph Wellington Straight at around 3pm, and sat down.

The protestors were dragged away by marshals as a number of drivers sped by.

One spectator described it as a "heart in mouth moment as they ran on and the cars came round the corner".

Another labelled the protesters' actions "dangerous".

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A spokesperson for Formula One's governing body said the protesters were "immediately removed".

Northamptonshire Police said they had made a number of arrests.

They said on Twitter: "We can confirm that after the red flag, a number of people entered the track.

"All have been removed safely and a number of arrests have been made.

"We continue to ask people to be extra vigilant and report anything suspicious to us."

Just Stop Oil said it 'expected' the protesters to be arrested.

Warning: Clip contains strong language

One of the protesters, 40-year-old Bethany Mogie from St Albans, said it was "the most frightening thing I have ever done" but that she was supporting the action because she was "even more terrified about what this government is doing".

It is thought the protesters entered the track after a large crash involving three vehicles at the start of the race, which spectators described as "scary".

Alfa Romeo driver Zhou Guanyu survived the extraordinary crash fter his car flipped upside down and slammed into the catch fencing in front of thousands of shocked fans.

The Formula One rookie was approaching the 160mph opening Abbey corner when British driver George Russell tagged the right rear of Zhou's machine, sending him on to his roof and sliding out of control.

Upside down, Zhou continued through the gravel before he slammed into the tyre barrier and was launched into the fencing.

Zhou's Alfa Romeo was lodged on its side, between the tyre wall and the fencing, with nearby fans and photographers ducking for cover following the impact.

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An extraction team rushed to Zhou and the 23-year-old Chinese driver, in just his 10th race, was carefully removed and taken away in an ambulance to the medical centre.

Russell was also seen dashing to check on his friend, the Williams driver Alex Albon who was also caught up in the accident, and then Zhou's condition.

"I'm glad to see Zhou okay. It was an horrific incident," Russell told Sky Sports.

The Mercedes driver, who was not permitted to restart the race, added: "I jumped out of the car to see that Zhou was ok. When got back to car I couldn't restart it. As soon as you get outside assistance you cannot restart the race."

Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon were also involved in the frenetic first moments of Sunday's race, with both drivers limping back to the pits for repairs and able to take part in the re-start.

A radio message to Zhou's team-mate Valtteri Bottas said: "Zhou is conscious. He is talking. There are no fractures and, considering the circumstances, he is pretty good, pretty well."

The race was immediately red-flagged, but as the cars made their way back to the pits, five protestors stormed the circuit at the 200mph Wellington Straight before sitting down.

"The FIA advises that following the start of the race, emergency crews were immediately in attendance and the drivers of Car 23 (Albon) and Car 24 (Zhou) have been taken to the medical centre," said the spokesperson.

"Both drivers were conscious and will be evaluated at the medical centre. Further updates will be given in due course."

The FIA added: "We also confirm that after the red flag, several people attempted to enter the track.

"These people were immediately removed and the matter is now being dealt with by the local authorities."

Following a delay of 53 minutes the race restarted.

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