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Greenpeace Protests Shell Arctic Drilling at Belgian GP

W460

Greenpeace activists paraglided to the top of the main stand of the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday to protest against drilling in the Arctic by the race's main sponsor, the Shell oil giant.

Six Greenpeace activists unfurled a banner that read "Arctic Oil? Shell No!" just before the race began, paragliding onto the roof in full view of thousands of spectators.

Two more activists managed to get onto the winners' podium during the award ceremony and a woman held out a message that read "Congratulations, now help us to save the Arctic".

"We are a bit confused down here because the crowd is booing and cheering and booing and we don't understand why," said the winner, Sebastian Vettel of Germany, with a big smile.

The world press was on hand to photograph the protest banners but no images were projected on giant screens around the circuit or in the press room.

Greenpeace opposes drilling projects in the Arctic by Shell, a partner of racing stable Ferrari, and title sponsor of the Belgian Grand Prix.

As part of a new campaign called "Save the Arctic", a Greenpeace icebreaker, the Arctic Sunrise, headed to the North Pole on Saturday, defying a ban by Russian authorities.

Greenpeace said in a statement that 35 of its members had infiltrated Sunday's race, with the two activists who accessed the VIP area paying 3,400 euros ($4,550) each for the privilege.

One of activists, Sabine Huyghens, made headlines last month when she climbed the Shard skyscraper in London, western Europe's tallest building, to protest against Shell drilling in the Arctic.

"If Shell continues to want to drill in the Arctic, we will all lose. An oil spill in the Arctic would be a disaster threatening an area of breathtaking beauty," she said in a Greenpeace statement.

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