By Adam Cooper, Crain News Service
DETROIT (Aug. 26, 2013) — Greenpeace said that 35 of its activists were involved in a carefully coordinated protest against race sponsor Royal Dutch Shell P.L.C. at the Belgian Grand Prix on Aug. 25, focusing on the oil company's activities in the Arctic.
Protestors managed to get on top of the main grandstand shortly before the start, with four of them rappelling down to eventually reveal a 20-meter-wide banner that read "Arctic Oil? Shell No!"
The protestors remained in place, dangling from the roof of the grandstand, until after the race.
Another team struck on a Shell advertising sign at the top of Eau Rouge, while paragliders flew overhead, trailing messages.
During the national anthems after the race, two banners rose up seemingly from nowhere on the metal fence at the front of the podium, operated by remote control. They were hurriedly removed by Alex Molina, the man responsible for the podium ceremony, while the TV director focused in on winning driver Sebastian Vettel.
Meanwhile, two protestors tried to interrupt the ceremony, with one of them abseiling down on the left while security tried to pull her back up. She was removed by security after the ceremony concluded. The pair had purchased VIP Paddock Club passes at a cost of several thousand dollars.
The drivers had no idea what was happening—or why there was booing from the crowd under the podium.
Greenpeace later confirmed that the podium banners had been installed "several weeks ago."
A spokeperson said that "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."
This report appeared on the website of Autoweek magazine, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.