In the wake of the chaotic Albert Park race last season, which witnessed four red flags, race organisers were found guilty of breaching FIA security protocols when fans invaded the track while cars were still running.
As well as the clear safety implications of potentially being hit, fans were also able to reach the stranded Haas of Nico Hulkenberg.
The car had parked on the exit of Turn 2 after finishing seventh and had its flashing red warning light activated, signalling it was in an unsafe condition with potential electrical discharge.
Event organisers were asked to come up with a remedial plan after race stewards declared: “The security measures and the protocols which were expected to be in place for the Event were not enforced resulting in an unsafe environment for the spectators, drivers and race officials.”
It was not the first time that fans had invaded the Melbourne track in such a manner, with similar problems having blighted the 2017 event, and the situation was due to be looked at by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council.
But with the matter still ongoing between organisers and the FIA, a decision has been taken to impose a total clampdown on any fan access to the circuit after this year’s grand prix.
This marks an end to a long tradition where Melbourne fans have rushed onto the track in time to join the podium celebrations.
Photo by: Lionel Ng / Motorsport Images
Fans invade the circuit as marshals load the car of Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri AT04, onto a truck
The news was communicated in a statement issued by the Australian Grand Prix Corporation on Thursday.
It said that fans would not be allowed on the track at all this year, but that a decision had not been taken yet on whether this was something that could change in the long term.
The statement read: “The Australian Grand Prix Corporation advises that given the ongoing FIA investigation into the early track breach at the conclusion of the 2023 event, there will be no track access for patrons following the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2024.
“Decisions regarding patron access to the track at the conclusion of future races will be made at a later date.”
The problems in Australia last year were not unique, with a similar situation occurring in Brazil when fans broke onto the track at Turn 1 as the cars took the chequered flag.
Race organisers there have also been asked to come up with an action plan that satisfies the FIA before this year’s race.