Silverstone circuit management has taken various measures to prevent disruptions from environmental activists during the upcoming 2022 British Grand Prix. Last year, six protesters from the group did break into the circuit, but a red flag because of a crash caused the race cars to significantly slow down during the opening lap, which prevented the demonstrators from getting too close to them. Three of the activists got suspended prison sentences, while the others were handed community orders and unpaid work. Other events such as the Grand National and World Snooker Championships have also recently been disrupted.
Stuart Pringle, Silverstone’s managing director, stated that events like the 1987 incident, wherein some people arrived on the scene to celebrate Nigel Mansell‘s victory, prompted the company to take measures in anticipation of such persistent risks. Fences encircling the circuit together with stewards are tighter than those in Australia, which encountered a protest during the current season. The company did an evaluation post-2021 and is closely collaborating with law enforcement agencies to minimize the risk of similar incidents taking place again.
Although Pringle is committed to ensuring that the British GP goes on smoothly, he agrees that the race is a potential target, given the massive volume of viewerships. He believes that sports events serve as soft targets for disruptive individuals and groups. Sports venues receive a high number of viewers worldwide, and activists take advantage of this to attract attention to their cause. Pringle concedes that there could be a connection between the Silverstone and Aintree Grand National protests, given that the latter event recently encountered a similar situation.
Therefore, Silverstone is working to ensure that activists do not disrupt the 2022 race, but Pringle maintains that sports events are target attractions for social activists worldwide because of their massive publicity.