Safety concerns raised as grid access for celebrities and guests under scrutiny in motorsports

In various motorsport events such as F1, Formula E, and the World Endurance Championship, celebrities, invited guests, and members of the international media have been granted limited access to join series officials and team personnel on the grid before races. However, this practice has recently come under scrutiny following an incident during the Spanish Grand Prix, where guests, including Brazilian footballer Neymar Jr, were positioned at the edge of the grass on the main straight as the formation lap began.

The FIA World Motor Sport Council is currently awaiting the findings of a review regarding a track invasion that occurred during the Australian Grand Prix in April. Race officials were called to the stewards immediately after the incident, and the event’s promoter is expected to submit a report in June that addresses the safety and security concerns raised. The FIA emphasizes that protecting the health and well-being of everyone on the grid is their top priority.

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Access to the grid has been occasionally granted to celebrity guests in the past, with special photoshoots arranged, such as the one featuring Usain Bolt before the start of the formation lap at the United States Grand Prix in 2017. FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem acknowledges the need to learn from the Spanish Grand Prix incident, and F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has assured the FIA that measures are being taken to prevent a recurrence.

The issue of grid access is not exclusive to Formula 1 but also extends to Formula E, the World Endurance Championship, and other motorsport categories. Sulayem emphasizes that the promoters of these events must adhere to FIA requirements regarding safety and security, as the federation’s main priority is ensuring a safe environment for all participants. The FIA has appointed single suppliers for knock sensors (Bosch) and insulation monitoring devices (Bender GmbH & Co. KG) for the new F1 power unit regulations starting in 2026.

As the review continues and the FIA works with event promoters to implement necessary safety measures, the goal is to address the concerns raised and create a secure environment on the grid for everyone involved in motorsports.