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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 July, 2003, 14:22 GMT 15:22 UK
Protester mars British GP
By Andrew Benson
Motorsport editor at Silverstone

A protester runs on to the track during the British Grand Prix
The security lapse has been perceived as an added problem for Silverstone
The reputation of the British Grand Prix took another blow when a demonstrator ran on to the track at Silverstone, forcing officials to bring out the safety car.

The man, wearing a kilt, carried a placard which read: "Read the Bible - the Bible is always right."

He was bundled to the ground by marshals after running on to the track at the entrance to Hangar Straight on lap 11.

Police then arrested the 56-year-old man and charged him with "aggravated trespass". He has been named as Neil Horan of Nunhead, south-east London.

Silverstone's managing director Andrew Waller immediately launched an official investigation into the track protest.

However, there are fears that F1 bosses Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone, who have been highly critical of Silverstone's facilities, will use the incident to drop the race from the F1 calendar.

Ecclestone said the incident reflected poorly on Silverstone's security arrangements.

"It wasn't necessary - the race was exciting enough without it. But the security wasn't good enough," he said.

A protester runs on to the track during the British Grand Prix
There is no way you can prevent it happening
McLaren boss Ron Dennis
After the race, F1 drivers pleaded with the sport's authorities not to overreact to the security scare.

British GP winner Rubens Barrichello said: "I'm sorry that it happened. I think Silverstone has come in for a lot of criticism. But it is now better than ever in terms of traffic jams and everything else.

"I like the track. It's a great place, and Becketts is one of the best corners in the world.

"With this happening it might be a bad situation, but I hope [Ecclestone and Mosley] will be more kind. We should be coming back here."

Runner-up Juan Pablo Montoya said: "This was one of the best races of the year, even with the spectator. It was so much fun today."

The incident was described as "the last thing Silverstone needed" by the track's boss, Martin Brundle.

But McLaren boss Ron Dennis echoed the views of the rest of the F1 team owners and drivers when he said that the incident could happen at any race and at any time.

"There is no way you can prevent it happening," he said.

Fellow team owner Peter Sauber said: "When a man sets himself on fire in the street in Paris, no-one blames Paris."

Ecclestone said on Sunday that he would guarantee the British Grand Prix's place on the F1 calendar until 2015 as long as track owners the British Racing Drivers' Club and race promoters Octagon found the funds to finance the improvements he wants.

And he said after the race that the security scare would not affect any decision taken on the Silverstone's future.

A similar incident took place at the 2000 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim when a spectator wandered around the course and crossed the track in front of oncoming cars.




BRITISH GRAND PRIX

RUBENS RULES SILVERSTONE

JUSTIN WILSON'S DIARY
 

TRACK GUIDE

2003 SEASON RACE BY RACE
 

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EACH DRIVER PROFILED
 



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