Sunday 22 September 2019

British F1 track intruder jailed in Singapore

The man had entered the track at the Marina Bay circuit in central Singapore
The man had entered the track at the Marina Bay circuit in central Singapore

A British national who walked on to the track during Singapore's Formula One night race while cars were hurtling towards him at about 175mph (280kph) has been jailed for six weeks.

Yogvitam Pravin Dhokia, 27, pleaded guilty to committing a rash act which endangered the personal safety of F1 drivers on September 20. He was arrested soon after the intrusion.

It is the first case of track intrusion in Singapore, which has held highly-anticipated F1 night races since 2008 and has a reputation for being tough on visitors and citizens alike who break the law.

Closed-circuit television footage showed Dhokia, wearing a T-shirt and shorts, squeezing his way through a gap in the Marina Bay circuit's metal fencing. He was seen casually strolling against the flow of traffic for a short distance while holding up a camera, before climbing over a trackside barrier to safety.

In sentencing Dhokia, District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt took into account a second charge of criminal trespass which stated that he entered the race track with intent to cause annoyance. The six-week sentence was backdated to October 16 as he had voluntarily spent a period of time on remand.

He had faced a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a fine of 2,500 Singapore dollars (£1,155).

On Lap 37, eventual race winner Sebastian Vettel was the first to raise the alarm over Ferrari's team radio.

"There's a man on the track! Man on the track!" Vettel screamed, and a safety car was deployed. Dhokia climbed over a barrier and was helped to safety by two marshals a few moments later.

Vettel told reporters after the race that the fan's actions were "pretty crazy" as cars were traveling at around 175mph (280kph) approaching that corner.

"I had to look again because I wasn't sure whether I had a problem with my eyesight," Vettel said. "I think I saw him taking a picture. I hope it was a good one at least - I hope it was in focus."

Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, who was runner-up in the race, said the emergence of the safety car at that point affected his winning chances.

"I was tempted to swerve, clip him," he told reporters.

Singapore Grand Prix organisers are considering tighter security for next year's race, featuring higher fences and more marshals.

PA Media

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