‘Five or six persons of interest’ could be facing bans for Australian GP track invasion

Michelle Foster
A red flag is shown at the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne, April 2023.

A red flag is shown at the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne, April 2023.

The six people who instigated the track invasion at the Australian Grand Prix could find themselves banned from future races with photographs of them also sent to Victoria Police.

A chaotic conclusion to the Australian Grand Prix was made even more so when spectators made their way onto the track while cars were still lapping the Albert Park circuit.

For the six people who instigated it, it could be the last time they ever attend an Australian Grand Prix.

“We’ll look at the powers we have and Victoria Police have under the major sporting events act that we operate under, as well as the grand prix act,” the grand prix’s general manager of operations Tom Mottram told The Age.

“Once the floodgates opened, unfortunately you’ve got to kind of run with it and manage it accordingly. But we’ve identified five or six persons of interest who breached the track early, and we want to be talking to them.

“It’s not something we will ever tolerate or accept and people need to realise this was a very dangerous undertaking that occurred.

“We’ll find out what was the understanding or motive, and whether it’s something they did with malicious intent or they subconsciously found themselves in that position. I wouldn’t want to jump to any conclusions until we’ve had an opportunity to chat to them.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

Serious questions for Australian GP officials after fan hit by debris in Magnussen’s crash

World Motor Sport Council involved after potentially ‘disastrous’ Melbourne track invasion

Daniil Kvyat: Red Bull ‘stabbed me in the back’ with Max Verstappen switch

The track invasion is still being investigated by the FIA with the Melbourne race promoter, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, summoned to see the stewards in the hours following the race.

The reason given was for a “spectator track invasion prior to the conclusion of the 2023 Australian Grand Prix” with the people “able to reach Car no 27, which was parked at the exit of Turn 2 and which still had its light flashing red (i.e. the car was in an unsafe condition with possible electrical discharge).

“All of this presented significant danger to the spectators, race officials and the drivers.”

The stewards’ note added that the AGPC had “candidly admitted the failures in terms of the security protocols and safety measures” while also accepting that this was “an unacceptable situation that could have had disastrous consequences.”

Their investigation into it now includes the Victoria Police.

Mottram has all but blamed “new and young fans” who don’t understand the dangers that come with motorsport.

“What we’re essentially finding is post-COVID, crowd behaviours and crowd dynamics have really changed for us,” he added.

“Our early findings already suggest our motorsport crowd in the past has been a compliant crowd, if I can put it that way. We’re certainly finding in the post-COVID environment, we’ve got new and young fans that have come to the event, and they’re not quite understanding the unsafe nature and dangers they put themselves in when they undertake these types of things.

“It almost feels like they think it’s similar to running onto the SGC when Buddy Franklin kicked his 1000th goal. It’s certainly not the same.

“We want to have culture vultures and young event goers that are there for the event as a whole, and not just the racing on track. So, it’s a double-edged sword for us.

“[But] it is something we’re looking at from more of a contributing factor point of view.”