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Australian GP fans facing bans after Albert Park track invasion

Fans invaded the Albert Park track before the Australian Grand Prix was finished, with some approaching Nico Hulkenberg's stopped Haas.

Australian Grand Prix organisers are not ruling out banning Formula 1 fans who breached the track before the end of the recent Albert Park race. After the two late red flags, the race ended with a rolling start behind the Safety Car, which peeled off into the pit lane to allow Max Verstappen to take the chequered flag. However, some fans breached the perimeter and made access onto the circuit while some cars were still out on track, with some even approaching Nico Hulkenberg's broken down Haas which had stopped at Turn 1 on the in-lap, despite it being in a red, danger state. Organisers have now identified six persons of interest, whose photos have now been passed to the Victoria state police for further enquiries.

Bans possible for invaders

However, before any sanctions are handed out, organisers would like to speak with said persons of interest. "We'll look at the powers we and Victoria police have under the major sporting events act that we operate under, as well as the Grand Prix act," explained Tom Mottram, the general operations manager of the event to Australian media. "Once the floodgates opened, unfortunately you’ve got to kind of run with it and manage it accordingly. But we've identified five or six persons of interest who breached the track early, and we want to be talking to them. "It's not something we will ever tolerate or accept and people need to realise this was a very dangerous undertaking that occurred. "We'll find out what was the understanding or motive, and whether it's something they did with malicious intent or they subconsciously found themselves in that position. "I wouldn't want to jump to any conclusions until we’ve had an opportunity to chat to them." After the invasion, the organisers were summoned to see the stewards, with a report into the breach set to be completed by the Australian Grand Prix Corporation by the end of June, with bodies such as the FIA and the Victoria state police also involved.

Post COVID world

Mottram also highlighted the changing nature of fans post COVID-19 pandemic, and how the "dynamics" have altered. "What we're essentially finding is post-COVID, crowd behaviours and crowd dynamics have really changed for us," he explained. "Our early findings already suggest our motorsport crowd in the past has been a compliant crowd, if I can put it that way. "We're certainly finding in the post-COVID environment, we've got new and young fans that have come to the event, and they're not quite understanding the unsafe nature and dangers they put themselves in when they undertake these types of things. "It almost feels like they think it's similar to running onto the [Sydney Cricket Ground] when [Australian rules footballer] Buddy Franklin kicked his 1000th goal. It's certainly not the same. "We want to have culture vultures and young event goers that are there for the event as a whole, and not just the racing on track. So, it's a double-edged sword for us. "[But] it is something we're looking at from more of a contributing factor point of view."

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