Lewis Hamilton has said he would support a peaceful protest by the Just Stop Oil group at this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
Environmental activists are targeting sporting events and are expected to take action at Silverstone and the seven-time world champion, who has expressed sympathy with their cause in the past, believed they had a valid point to make.
On Wednesday, campaigners disrupted two matches at Wimbledon and also did so on the first day of the Lord’s Ashes Test. The organisers of the British Grand Prix have already said they are planning the weekend with the expectation of disruption.
However, while Hamilton was unequivocal in stating that protesters should not climb on to the track or endanger lives, he did support their right to make a point about the climate emergency. When asked if he would agree with a protest at the race not involving invading the track, he said: “Yes. I support peaceful protests.”
He has expressed concern about the climate emergency in the past and has been working actively with his Mercedes team to address issues of sustainability and attempting to minimise the environmental impact the team makes by participating in F1.
At Silverstone, Hamilton was clear he supported the cause Just Stop Oil were promoting but did emphasise they should make their point without endangering lives by climbing on to the track.
“From my perspective, and my team’s perspective, we are focused on sustainability and we believe in what people [the protesters] are fighting for and we are making those changes as a sport,” he said.
“But safety is key. We don’t want to put them in harm’s way and we don’t want to put anyone else in harm’s way. If there was to be one [a protest] we hope it is not on track.”
At the race last year, Just Stop Oil protesters breached the trackside fencing on the opening lap, shortly after the Chinese driver Zhou Guanyu had suffered a high-speed crash at turn one.
The race was stopped immediately but five protesters took to the track on the Wellington straight while the cars were still circulating and returning to the pits. No one was hurt but they were arrested, later convicted of causing a public nuisance but were not given custodial sentences.
Hamilton said at the time: “I’ll always support those standing up for what they believe in, it must be done safely.”