Formula One Grands Prix, like many motorsport events, tend to major on high-octane thrills more than environmental friendliness. As such, they're never going to be on Greenpeace's list of "good things", but at last weekend's 2013 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, Greenpeace activists were there to protest something else.
The race was sponsored by Shell, whose advertising hoardings lined many parts of the circuit. Come the podium celebrations for Sebastian Vettel's dominant victory, activists dropped anti-Shell banners and hung from ropes on the grandstand to protest Shell's exploration of oil drilling in the Arctic--a long-standing campaign for Greenpeace.
Ironically, the group's activism wasn't caught on the worldwide TV feed, reports Reuters--but images of the protests have spread around social media feeds. Greenpeace announced in a statement that 35 activists had accessed different areas of the circuit, two of whom were arrested by police for climbing a large Shell billboard at the Raidillon turn--the left-hander at the top of the hill following the famous Eau Rouge corner.
Small remote-control banners had been installed weeks before the event, which unfurled during the podium celebrations. This was met by boos from the crowd, confusing race-winner Vettel--"the crowd are booing and cheering and I'm not sure why" he said in the podium interview.
The group's choice of the Grand Prix was due to it being "Shell's biggest day of the year"--but we suspect such a message might be lost on the tens of thousands of fans who turn up to see some motor racing. Whether or not you agree with Shell's plans for Arctic drilling, protesting in front of thousands of petrolheads may not be the most effective way of spreading the message...