Formula E took security steps to avoid ‘gilets jaunes’ protests

ABB FIA Formula E operations staff wore blue high-visibility kit at the Paris E-Prix as a result of disturbances in the French capital caused by the ‘gilets jaunes’ protest movement.

Formula E took security steps to avoid ‘gilets jaunes’ protests

The 'gilets jaunes' (yellow vests) movement began in November 2018 as a protest initially against the economic policies of French president Emmanuel Macron and has since become a wider crusade for economic justice in France.

With the FE race taking place in the heart of Paris near protest sites that have included the Place de la Republique and the Champs-Elysees, the championship had to adjust its security measures.

In addition to FE’s standard security protocols for city-centre events, Motorsport.com understands that the championship worked closely with the Parisian authorities and had special measures in place to monitor potential flashpoints near the track.

Additional security personnel were also engaged for this weekend’s event and stricter search policies on arrival at the venue were enacted.

When asked what specific measures FE had taken on advice from the Parisian authorities by Motorsport.com, FE CEO and founder Alejandro Agag replied: “More security, increased security. And we changed our staff gilet.”

FE sends production and operations staff out to each venue well in advance of each race to operate the track and facilities construction. These personnel usually wear the traditional yellow high-vis jackets now associated with the gilets jaunes movement.

For the Paris race only, Agag explained that these staff, who are also required to take down the FE track and associated buildings, wore blue high-vis kit instead.

“Everyone around building [the track] is in a yellow gilet – everyone in the world [working on building projects also does],” he said. “Except this race they are blue. Obviously we are careful with those situations. We increased the security and we [were] ready for any kind of small disturbance or anything.

“But [we were] given assurances by everyone here that [was] not going to be a problem. But obviously we are always vigilant.”

It is understood that no protests were attempted at the track on Saturday, although there was a protest march elsewhere in the city, as thousands of trade unionists and left-wing activists joined the gilets jaunes protesters.

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