If a report by British tabloid The Sun is to be believed, Formula One has a bit more to worry about at Silverstone Circuit in July than Mercedes’ continued attempts at rule bending. The report, though scant on details, said both F1 and circuit bosses fear an attack by ISIS bomber drones at the race.
Bosses at Silverstone have giant nets and are giving security guards net guns and devices that can disable drone GPS for the British Grand Prix, according to The Sun. It all sounds like some kind of grown-up, dystopian Spy Kids movie, and a spokesperson for Silverstone confirmed part of the report.
The Sun’s story quoted only a higher up in the company that will reportedly supply drone-killing devices for the race, and the rest of its information is from “bosses” at the circuit and in F1:
[Security guards] will patrol before and after the race, which tens of thousands will flock to on July 16.
Silverstone officials confirmed that they have inked a contract with security company Drone Defence to cover the race.
The British company’s founder, Richard Gill, said: “Outdoor events, festivals and sporting venues are all very attractive targets for rogue drone users.
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That’s almost the entire story right there, other than the colorful phrase saying the specialized security guards will “pluck drones out of the sky like you would a goldfish from a tank.” But, again, there’s a lack of citation for this information and The Sun didn’t hint in the slightest who may have said it.
A spokesperson for Silverstone didn’t confirm anything about ISIS, but told Jalopnik that the circuit has to “control the use of any drones at the Circuit, not only at the British Grand Prix, but every day of the year.”
“We only ever allow pre-approved drone operators at the Circuit who adhere to a strict accreditation process,” the spokesperson said. “Not only is a drone a significant distraction to the drivers on the track, but the circuit has its own heliport and therefore airspace over the venue also has to be taken into consideration, particularly at the Grand Prix when the volume of air traffic is significant.
“Silverstone is therefore currently considering its options with regard to drone defence at the British Grand Prix. Regarding the use of nets, I cannot confirm whether this is a method that a drone defender would use.”
This isn’t the first reported run-in that F1 has had with suspected ISIS attacks, if that is what’s feared to be going on. In 2016, the Mirror reported that police stopped a planned ISIS attack slated to occur near the site of the Singapore Grand Prix. Police arrested six suspected of planning to launch missiles on Singapore’s waterfront a month before the race, according to the Mirror.
In addition to Silverstone, Jalopnik has reached out to F1 to get an idea of its concerns about any possible drone attacks and will update if we hear back.
Either way, this grand prix sounds like it’ll be better from the couch.