Shell targeted by protesters at Belgian Grand Prix

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Environmental organisation Greenpeace disrupted the pre- and post-race ceremonies at the Belgian Grand Prix to protest the activities of the race’s title sponsor Shell.

A 65-foot banner was erected opposite the pits and Paddock Club in the minutes leading up to the start of the race and Greenpeace slogans were displayed next to Shell advertising elsewhere on the circuit. Two paragliders also displayed anti-Shell banners above the circuit prior to the start.

Following the race two banners in front of the podium were activated via remote control while the national anthems were being played for the race winner. Formula One Management avoided showing the banners on the television broadcast while they were removed by an FIA official (see video).

Meanwhile more protesters abseiled onto the top of the podium to display other banners. One was halted by security while another, named by Greenpeace as Julia Ritschard, was able to display her banner.

Some of the crowd booed in response to the protesters which confused the drivers on the podium. Race winner Sebastian Vettel said: “We are a bit confused down here because the crowd is booing and cheering and booing and we don’t understand why.” David Coulthard, who was conducting the podium interviews, replied: “We’re not going to highlight why that is at the moment.”

Greenpeace said 35 people were involved in the protests, some of which were arrested.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.