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.