World Motor Sport Council involved after potentially ‘disastrous’ Melbourne track invasion
Melbourne race promoter, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, was summoned to see the FIA in the hours following the race, and now the World Motor Sport Council is involved.
Following on from the utter chaos of the on-track ending to the Australian Grand Prix, the confusion continued when the promoter was called to see the stewards.
With the results of the race itself initially in question after a post-race protest from Haas, over the validity of the classification on the grounds of how the order was determined for the Safety Car-led final lap, a protest which was ultimately dismissed, a representative from the Australian Grand Prix Corporation [AGPC] was told to visit the FIA stewards.
According to a document issued by the FIA several hours after the Grand Prix, a summons was sent to the AGPC for a rep to visit the stewards’ office at 2015 local time.
The reason given was for a “Spectator track invasion prior to the conclusion of the 2023 Australian Grand Prix.”
The invasion itself was not spotted by the TV footage prior to the ending of the race, with no further information forthcoming from the stewards at that stage as to the nature or location of the spectator breach.
Fan footage though which later emerged seemed to show fans had entered the track, with a further document in the aftermath confirming that “a large group of spectators” had indeed got past security.
In a further worrying update, the stewards said that fans were able to reach Car 27, that being the Haas of Nico Hulkenberg, which had stopped at Turn 2 on the last lap and was still displaying a red light, warning of a risk of electrocution and so the car should not be touched.
“A large group of spectators managed to break the security lines and accessed the track while the race was still ongoing,” the report states. “The security measures and the protocols which were expected to be in place for the event were not enforced resulting in an unsafe environment for the spectators, drivers and race officials.
“Furthermore, spectators were also able to reach Car no 27, which was parked at the exit of Turn 2 and which still had its light flashing red (i.e. the car was in an unsafe condition with possible electrical discharge). All of this presented significant danger to the spectators, race officials and the drivers.”
The verdict added that the promoter “candidly admitted the failures in terms of the security protocols and safety measures”, also accepting that this was “an unacceptable situation that could
have had disastrous consequences”.
The promoter has agreed to “conduct a thorough investigation” which will result in changes in time for the next Australian Grand Prix, and have been granted until 30 June to complete the investigation.
That is not the end of the matter though, as the stewards have asked the FIA to give their verdict on whether the steps proposed by the Australian GP promoter are adequate, while also referring the incident to the World Motor Sport Council for further investigation.
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Max Verstappen came home as the winner of the race in Melbourne, weathering the final restart to lead as carnage ensued behind him when the two Alpines collided, Carlos Sainz spun Fernando Alonso out, and Logan Sargeant locked up to take himself and Nyck de Vries out of the race.
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