Greenpeace target Shell with Belgian GP protest

2013 Belgian Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Greenpeace disrupted activities at the Belgian Grand Prix as they sought to draw attention to race sponsor Shell’s drilling practices.

Protesters unrolled a large banner in the main grandstand opposite the pits in the build-up to the race. Others were deployed by remote control during the podium ceremony, as shown in the video above.

According to the environmental organisation, two members of their 35-strong team were arrested after “subverting” a Shell advertising board at the Radillon corner. Other banners were displayed by paragliders before the start of the race.

Julia Ritschard of Swiss group said: “Shell has spent millions on this event, hoping to ride on the glory of the drivers and pretend it’s a company worthy of a spot on the podium.”

“But Shell has proven time and again that it will cut the most dangerous corners in the race to drill for oil as the Arctic ice melts away. So I’m here to let Formula One fans know what this company is really up to and make sure the truth of what Shell is doing in the Arctic is part of today’s race.”

2013 Belgian Grand Prix

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Image © Greenpeace

162 comments on “Greenpeace target Shell with Belgian GP protest”

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  1. Remote-controlled banners were used to display a message of protest on a large banner in the main grandstand opposite the pits in the build-up to the race

    Unbelievable. I was there. I sat in the Gold 1 Grand Stand.
    When posting an article at least get your facts straight…

    1. @baron-2 As always if a mistake is made I’m happy to correct it.

  2. I love F1 but I couldn’t care less if the cars run on petrol or liquified banana skins. So good on Greenpeace for highlighting bad environmental practices and poor corporate citizenship whomever the company may be. It is realised now that a hundred years or so of fossil fuel use is causing problems for human kind and the other species that share the planet. Those of us who support motor racing ought not to get on our high horses when protests like this happen. It’s a wonder there hasn’t been more. But I always say to those who say motor racing “wastes” fuel to look at all other recreational activity as well. I think if you take into account the fuel used in all other sports by spectators travelling to events, or tourists jetting around sight-seeing then 22 F1 cars is of no significance. We have the same rights as them to enjoy our chosen sport. The point is not to stop us humans having fun but to do it in a better and more sustainable way.

  3. “Shell has proven time and again that it will cut the most dangerous corners in the race to drill for oil as the Arctic ice melts away.”

    I’m interested in what dangerous corners are they cutting? What’s their proof? It’s easy to make up stories and try to convey a message… I know I’m not up to date on the latest world news or anything, but I feel like there really isn’t a need to be flashy in them making up stories. Drilling for oil is a dangerous job but in my two minutes researching how Shell is allegedly cutting corners, I found zero accusations outside of stories similar to this.

      1. There’s nothing there that seems they cut corners in terms of safety.
        I will say that it seems the constant problems with Shell in the arctic are concerning, but, again, nothing conveys them “cutting corners” as greenpeace claims.

        1. @beejis60

          Given the consequences mistakes can lead to, I think it’s fair to say that if they are not fully prepared for the situations that may and are occurring, like extreme weather, that they are cutting corners.

  4. I wish the people in Greenpeace would come up with solutions to problems rather than point the obvious ones out to us. They point out nothing new, we know oil is bad, anywhere you drill will mess up the environment, but some of us also know we need it unless someones comes up with a better idea.

    They only focused on F1 because of the amount of people watching, Greenpeace’s marketing department is just looking for eyeballs.

    1. I’m quite sure if you asked them they’d have many “solutions”. Although notably in this case the first would likely be,

      Step 1: Don’t drill in arctic.

      They focused on this race because of how important it is to Shell. Shell’s marketing department is also looking for eyeballs. Also, note that they are not saying “don’t use oil”, they are criticizing specifically the drilling for oil in the arctic.

  5. Am I the only one that doesn’t care that the icecaps are melting? It’s part of the earths natural cycle, they melt for a few thousand years and then it’s hot for a few thousand years and then they freeze for a few thousand years and then it’s cold for a few thousand years and then the process repeats itself.

    1. In a natural cycle, there aren’t added carbon emissions or a hefty impact on the earth’s resources, though. To think we can completely halt climate change is foolish; but not as much as thinking we cannot influence it at all.

    2. I would imagine there are lot of people who would disagree, if for no other reason than enjoying their homes being above sea level.

      1. @matt90

        I can’t swim :C

      2. I would totally love for New Jersey to flood and my home in the Poconos to become beachfront property haha.

  6. Well, F1 is all about commitment and Greenpeace’s actions certainly required a lot of dedication and effort. Given that and also the fact that they didn’t interrupt the race itself or protest against F1 as a sport, I must admit I have a certain respect for them and say “well done” even if they kind of interrupted our church service.

    I guess this is a significant reminder that those who ensure that F1 world keeps turning, including the sponsors and the suppliers, are not always nice people. As long as the engines keep roaring, we might forget about it but we shouldn’t be surprised that there are other people, who care about human rights or the future of our planet.

  7. As well as being an F1 fan I have the misfortune/fortune to report on the shipping and offshore industries for a living as a trade journalist. I also had the fortune/misfortune to witness Andy Brown the head of Shell’s upstream division (the bit that does stuff like drilling for oil) fail completely to answer any questions whatsoever on their rig accident in the Arctic while being grilled in public in early June, in front of 500 plus, largely partisan to Shell’s cause, of a top level shipping/offshore industry audience at major event in Norway, called Norshipping. The moderator doing the grilling was a CNN presenter so no slouch shall we say.
    Shell’s response was pretty incriminating in its own way, they’re only concerned with getting the **** sued off them, so they say nothing substantive at all. But they’re not the only ones doing it – Statoil, Norway’s national company is really big on the idea oddly enough(!) and probably has far more experience than anyone else, but they are a wee bit less sexy to the environmentalists than Shell, and to be fair say even less than Shell beyond the absolute necessary if that is actually humanly possible….
    People are experimenting with shipping oil etc via a polar route from Asia to Europe – Russia has issued 300 plus licenses this year – compared to less than 40 in 2012.
    I don’t agree with what Greenpeace did yesterday, frankly its just stupid and annoying, and apart from creating a bad day for a few PR depts achieved remarkably little I’d imagine although I’m sure they all feel like heroes. Maybe they should try the same stunt in Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Malaysia or Bahrain now that would require real balls.

  8. I have got to admire the ingenuity Greenpeace used there.

  9. Great post Keith!

    It’s regrettable that both Sky and the BBC ignored a peaceful protest which deserved to be a talking point. I strongly believe F1 should be leading the way with green technology, sustainable use of resources and support for human rights. There’s nothing in the rules that says the sport has to bow down before amoral multinationals and brutal regimes. It doesn’t have to provide a criticism-free advertising platform to companies like Shell and governments like that of Bahrain. Only the apparently limitless greed of FOM has led us to the current unfortunate situation.

  10. Haha, I love how nonchalantly the guy just bent the banners down and dealt with the problem. Props to professional and level-headed security.

  11. Seeing as I once was almost assaulted by some people from Greenpeace just for expressing my love for F1 and my opinion on some of their environmental issues, I really have no respect for such a pointless, stupid and therefore idiotic action.

    The bit that cars pollute are just a shadow form what certain industries in China, India, Russia, the United States,… blow into the air. Why should we as Europeans, who for that matter are the most environmental aware of any on this earth pay the price for the countries I named.

    Like I said I have no love for Greenpeace as most of their activists are mindless and aggressive personalities that would prefer to send us back to the caveman era. Therefore I sincerely condemn this pointless action, which is completely aimed at the wrong persons, once again….

    1. Well put sir!

    2. I agree with you 100%. There are many other organizattions concerned with enviromental issues whose attitude are firm and strong but not radical and agressive as Greenpeace. Violence generates more violence. The money that raises Greenpeace can be used to advertise their point of view legally in the media.

  12. good to see them stick it to the man!
    the guy who had to take the signs down must have felt a right pratt, perhaps he should have just left it, probably bought more attention to the signs anyway

    always good to see someone getting the better of ecclestone, good on yer!

  13. Wow. To be honest I thought nobody would really take notice of this protest, but there’s been quite a response on this article. If their goal was to make people aware of and get them thinking about Shell’s activities, then they’ve succeeded.

    Quite ironic really. The disapproving response from the crowd has probably drawn a lot more attention to the issue…

  14. I understand that they’re trying to put across a message, but im not quite sure why greenpeace believe that they can display their advertisments free of charge…
    I’d also think that security breaches of this nature would require some kind of investigation and potentially stepped up security/procedures, which im sure will be reflected in ticket prices…

  15. FOM had the original video taken down from YouTube, however Greenpeace have re-uploaded it elsewhere.

    1. Hahaha! Good luck with THAT, Greenpeace. FOM is on every major video platform now – that’ll be taken down too in a jiffy.

      1. @journeyer According to Greenpeace the original already had 240,000 views. But it’s another interesting sign of how selectively FOM enforce their copyright controls on material that wasn’t filmed using their cameras.

      2. FOM

        Social Media ?????

        Oh Yeah, the F1 police, you cant watch till you pay $$$$$$$

  16. Collected my thoughts on Greenpeace: I agree with their point of view, but I don’t get their act of protest. Shell is a minuscule part of the Belgian GP, so I don’t understand why they target a Grand Prix just to make a point with no clear relevance to this event. Yes, they are forced to resort to leeching off of these kind of events, but it doesn’t justify making a point that is not universally shared.

    One more thing I wanted to say RE the video they’ve uploaded: the video ends with “Embarrassing Shell on its biggest PR day of the year – priceless”. That’s not protesting, that’s bullying, which makes we wonder whether their objective is to raise awareness on the Shell problem, or just annoy Shell and have Greenpeace-followers laugh at Shell’s expense.

  17. Actually we thought they were protesting against ticket prices…

    If we invest in a microlight, how much can we save at next year’s British GP, Glastonbury, etc ?

  18. You are sure giving them quite the article keith, lots of pictures and updated the video when the youtube one got deleted…

    1. @ausuma It’s not uncommon for articles on F1 Fanatic to be updated with more information and extra media in this way. A lot of the information has come out in dribs and drabs. I could have done separate articles for the videos and pictures but I think had I done that the story would have ended up occupying a disproportionate amount of space on the home page to the level of interest in it. Though having said that there has been more interest in this than I expected there would be.

  19. i was sat at the bus stop chicane and had no idea this was going on! Even during the podium ceremony it wasn’t that obvious! it was only when we walked along the pit straight we noticed the banner opposite the pits, but even then I didn’t really think much of it. Cant imagine that FOM or whoever had to do much to cover this up.

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