Lewis Hamilton has thrown his support behind the climate activists who invaded the track at Sunday’s British Grand Prix by declaring: “Big up the protestors.”
Northamptonshire Police said seven people were arrested after the invasion on the opening lap of the Silverstone contest.
Five protestors stormed the Wellington Straight – the fastest point of the track – before sitting down.
The race had already been suspended following Zhou Guanyu’s high-speed crash, but a number of cars sped by as the quintet – understood to be from climate activist group Just Stop Oil – launched their protest.
They were swiftly dragged away by marshals to huge cheers from the watching crowd.
But after the race, Hamilton said: “Big up those guys. Big up the protestors.
“I love that people are fighting for the planet and we need more people like them.”
Hamilton later moved to clarify his support, revealing he had not realised protestors had stormed the track when making his comments straight after the race.
“As we’ve seen today, this is a dangerous sport,” said Hamilton in a social media statement.
“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.
“Please don’t jump on to our race circuits to protest, we don’t want to put you in harm’s way.”
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) July 3, 2022
Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz, who won the race, said: “As soon as I came out of Turn Five I saw three guys running towards me.
“People have the opportunity to speak out because it is their right, but I don’t believe jumping onto a Formula One track is the best way to do it, and putting yourself at risk, and the other drivers.
“You have to be more careful because you could get killed and generate an accident.”
Formula One bosses had been alerted to the potential of a protest earlier this week.
Seven people have been arrested following the track invasion at the beginning of the Formula 1 race.
More here: https://t.co/5mHLMYVXoA
— Northants Police (@NorthantsPolice) July 3, 2022
“I’m really disappointed that this group of people ignored our warnings prior to race-day and made the incredibly dangerous decision to enter the track,” said event commander chief inspector Tom Thompson.
“We offered to facilitate a peaceful event at the circuit but they instead chose to put the lives of the drivers, marshals and volunteers at risk. It is incredibly disappointing that anyone would make the decision to do this.
“All seven are currently in custody where their details are being ascertained.”
Hamilton’s controversial remarks came after he crossed the line in third position to secure his second podium in as many races.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 3, 2022
At one stage, the 37-year-old was a serious contender to win – on fresh rubber and behind only Charles Leclerc and Sainz at the restart with 10 laps to go – before losing out to Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.
Hamilton briefly moved up to second as Leclerc and Perez duelled for position, but his promotion lasted just five corners as the Ferrari and Red Bull charged back past.
Hamilton took Leclerc heading into Stowe with four laps remaining to seal the last spot on the podium – his 13th at Silverstone.
“I definitely did enjoy those final laps,” he said. “It was reminiscent of my karting days and that was Formula One at its best.
“The fact we were able to follow and dice like that, lap-after-lap, is testament to the direction the sport has gone in, and I was just grateful to be in the battle.”