Just Stop Oil protesters risked ‘serious harm’ to F1 drivers, court told

Sam Cooper
Protestors are dragged away from the Silverstone circuit. Silverstone, July 2022.

Protestors are dragged away from the Silverstone circuit. Silverstone, July 2022.

A group of protesters who broke onto the Silverstone track posed a risk of “serious harm” to F1 drivers and marshals, a court has been told.

Five protesters invaded the track during the opening lap of the 2022 British Grand Prix and sat on the Wellington Straight as the cars went by.

The event was largely overshadowed by Zhou Guanyu’s dramatic crash on the first corner but could have been much worse had the cars not been travelling at red flag speeds.

On approach, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was heard saying on the radio “what are these guys doing? Look at these spectators coming onto the track.”

The five protestors, two women and three men, sat down on the track just as the AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda passed by. They were then dragged off the circuit by marshals as Esteban Ocon drove past.

The on-board footage of both drivers was shown to a jury at Northampton Crown Court during the prosecution’s opening speech, as was Lewis Hamilton’s who passed by shortly before the protestors made it onto the track.

David Baldwin, 47, Emily Brocklebank, 24, Alasdair Gibson, 22, Louis McKechnie, 22, Bethany Mogie, 40, and Joshua Smith, 29, have all denied causing a public nuisance. Baldwin did not make it onto the track but was found in a car park along with glue, cable ties and a Just Stop Oil banner.

PlanetF1 recommends

Forget Red Bull v Mercedes v Ferrari, another battle looks set to dominate in F1 2023
F1 stats: 11 times drivers single-handedly would’ve won the Constructors’ title
Lewis Hamilton v Max Verstappen: Key stats compared after first eight seasons in F1

Prosecutor Simon Jones told the court that their actions clearly risked “serious harm” to themselves as well as the drivers and the marshalls.

“The prosecution say that these defendants committed a criminal act of public nuisance. As events unfolded, the F1 Grand Prix had started and it was under a red flag after a serious accident had occurred at the very start.

“Each of these defendants were present at Silverstone and they were intent on causing a disruption to the race.

“It is not in dispute that five of the defendants in this case – all of them save for David Baldwin – made it onto the race track and they did not have permission to be there.

“There is no dispute as to that, and they sat down in front of the ongoing cars – Formula 1 motor racing cars.

“They will inevitably say that this was done as an act of protest and in order to bring publicity to the cause and demand they make – of no new oil and gas licences.”

During one of the video statements made by the defendants, they claimed the world is “being destroyed for the benefit of a few people.”