"Last generation" disrupts Formula E race in Berlin: police launch investigation, drivers react with incomprehension
Shortly before the start of the Formula E race in Berlin, there was a protest action on the start and finish straight of the race track. Several demonstrators climbed over a fence of the course at the former Tempelhof Airport and sat in front of the race cars. Six people were arrested. Police have opened a criminal investigation. While Formula E thanks the security forces, the drivers reacted largely with incomprehension to the action.
In social media videos can be seen how the people simultaneously ran from grandstand seats in the direction of the several meters high fence. They climbed the fence and then jumped onto the track. There, the first pilots were already accelerating into their starting pits. Security forces and the police removed the demonstrators from the track shortly afterwards. Since an initially not further defined substance on the course was also reported - the Berlin police assume glue - FIA race director Scot Elkins released the E-Prix only with a delay of six minutes.
"I'm going to interrupt the Formula E car race in Berlin today (...) and I wish I didn't have to," said a "Last Generation" demonstrator in a video posted on Twitter after the action. In the climate policy of the German government, a "full brake" is necessary "to still be able to adequately protect our livelihoods, instead of wasting so much unnecessary energy here."
Formula E spokesman: "Action was not related to event"
A Formula E spokesman responded to a query from 'e-formula.news' on Sunday afternoon with a terse statement about the protest action: "The race was temporarily delayed while local authorities responded to a protest action that was not related to the event. Security quickly and safely contained the disturbance. The event was able to continue as planned."
++ Car racing disrupted ++- Last Generation (@UprisingLastGen) April 23, 2023
?‼️Wir are at the @eFORMELde racetrack to sound the alarm.
It's time to get off the gas. Because we are on the highway to climate hell with our foot on the gas pedal. pic.twitter.com/Ml23sO1efT
The Berlin police confirmed to 'e-formula.news' that criminal investigations had been initiated against the protesters taken into custody. In this course, interrogations are currently taking place.
Di Grassi: "I just thought: what the fuck?!"
After the race, several drivers noted how dangerous the action had been. "At first I suspected it was a marshall with yellow flags. But then the person jumped over the fence and sat right in front of my car. I just thought, What the fuck?!" recalls Lucas di Grassi when we approach him about the protest along with media colleagues. "They should rather go demonstrate in a museum or somewhere else. Especially for their own safety. I think now I've seen it all in Formula E!"
Pole sitter Robin Frijns (ABT Cupra) watched the scenes unfold, especially in his rearview mirrors. "I think it's sad," the Dutchman explained to us. "I've never understood these people. Here we are trying to help the climate and show the world that electric mobility is better for the planet. And then they come here and do something like this. I have no understanding of that."
Antonio Felix da Costa (Porsche) has a similar view: "We are actually fighting for the same thing. We are by far the most sustainable and ecological motorsport series that has ever existed. We want to convince people to drive electric and show that e-cars are cool and fast and efficient. So I don't understand the whole thing. I hope everyone is fine."
Demonstrator directly in front of Hughes' car - "life-threatening!"
A demonstrator also sat down in front of Jake Hughes' (McLaren) car. "Formula E handled the situation very quickly," he said, praising the security forces. "We see this kind of thing more and more these days, so it didn't surprise me too much. Still, whenever someone jumps a fence, it becomes life-threatening! On the one hand for them, but also for us and other fans."
Whether Formula E, of all things, a racing series for cars with electric drives, was the right championship for such a protest? "I don't have too much to say about that. They just want to have a stage."
It's not the first time activist:ins have disrupted motorsport events. Under the slogan "Just Stop Oil", a group had entered the track area during the 2022 Silverstone Formula 1 race and unfurled a banner on a straight. For Formula E, however, the action was a premiere - which fortunately ended without any injuries.