Motor Racing: Protesters storm race-track

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The Independent Online
SECURITY at Melbourne's Albert Park Grand Prix circuit has been tightened for Sunday's opening race of the Formula One season, after protesters stormed safety cordons and cut through wire fencing yesterday.

Around 30 people charged entrance gates in the latest demonstration by a group protesting about Albert Park being used as a race-track. The construction of the circuit involved the felling of more than 1,000 trees.

One protester confronted Formula One drivers and pit crews on the main straight before being ejected by security guards. Another chained herself to the wall of the Ferrari garage, but was removed by mechanics.

Police said 13 demonstrators got into the circuit, including three women who posed as guests attending a charity function and half a dozen who cut a hole in a wire fence.

"There were no arrests, and all were quickly evicted from the ground," a police spokesman said. "There will be a very high police presence at entrance gates and inside the grand prix track."

In a separate incident, a giant video screen crashed to the ground when its support scaffolding collapsed, sparking a safety inspection of other screens mounted around the circuit. No one was injured.

The newest team chief on the Formula One scene, Craig Pollock, wants his close friend and world champion, Jacques Villeneuve, to join his British American Racing team next season.

Villeneuve will start the defence of his world title for Williams on Sunday, but he is already the subject of speculation for 1999. Pollock, who has taken over the Tyrrell banner for this season before changing to BAR in 1999, also flagged his interest in a Villeneuve double act with Michael Schumacher.

"Having Jacques Villeneuve driving for me, because we are so tight together, it would be a fantastic dream," Pollock said. "If I can go for Jacques Villeneuve I can go for Michael Schumacher."

Pollock is part-owner of Stellar management, which looks after Villeneuve's affairs.