Racers, officials slam 'scary' F1 track invasion
IT MIGHT seem amusing to see a man sauntering along a Formula One (F1) track, oblivious to the race cars hurtling around him.
But organisers, drivers and team officials are dead serious when they registered their concerns at the track invader's antics during Sunday's Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix.
According to reports, the 27-year-old man has since been arrested and is assisting police with investigations.
Closed-circuit television footage showed him clambering on to the track through an opening.
He then ambled across the track, before doubling up when he saw race leader Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari emerge from the turn. The incident prompted the deployment of the safety cars.
A statement from the International Automobile Federation (FIA), F1's governing body, said: "We are awaiting a full report from the clerk of the course in order to determine the circumstances surrounding this incident."
A spokesman for race organisers Singapore GP said investigations are ongoing and a statement will be released soon.
Singapore racer Yuey Tan, who was watching the race from his hotel room after competing in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia earlier on Sunday, said things could have easily spiralled out of control.
Said the 33-year-old: "If he (had entered the track) at a blind corner, he would have been smashed and killed. And with so many cars on the track going at speeds of 280-290kmh, so many other things can happen.
"Drivers could be hit by flying debris, or they could crash as they tried to avoid each other as well as the man. It's important to figure out how it happened and make sure it doesn't occur again."
The Straits Times understands that, for the man to reach the track, he has to first scale a chest-high barricade to get to a 2m-wide corridor along the track where track marshals operate.
From there, he could then get on the track through an opening used by marshals to access the track to clear debris or other obstacles.
There are many such openings along the 5km Marina Bay Street Circuit, and they are usually manned by the marshals. There are also security staff patrolling stretches of the track on foot.
A source said it is likely the culprit chose a time when both marshals and security officers were not looking.
Track specifications, such as the barricade height, are guided by FIA, the source added.
The incident caused widespread consternation among F1 drivers and officials. Manor president Graeme Lowdon said: "I'm sure it was a pretty scary thing for the drivers to come across, but the drivers managed the situation pretty well, and thankfully no one was hurt."
However, Tan believes it will not take the shine off the Singapore Grand Prix, which has been held every year since 2008.
He said: "The important thing is to learn from this, educate the crowd on safety and tighten up security."