‘I didn’t control it’ – Vettel on controversial flag displayed on 2022 helmet

Sebastian Vettel was forced to change his helmet design after the CAA took issue with the presence of the Turkish Cypriot flag.

Sebastian Vettel has revealed that he had no say on what flags appeared on the bottom of his specially designed crash helmet for 2022, but suggests that the fact he was asked to remove it contradicts the message the helmet is designed to emit.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, war has broken out in Eastern Europe, with multiple casualties on both sides and over two million people now displaced from their homes as a result of the shocking violence.

Vettel introduced a new helmet design ahead of the new season, replacing the usual German stripes that run along the helmet with blue and yellow Ukrainian ones to display his support for the people affected by the war.

Also featured is a dove and the John Lennon lyrics “Imagine all the people.”

The drivers got together on Wednesday before the second test in Bahrain to protest the war Russia has started on its neighbours and, while Vettel is proud to show support for the victims of Vladimir Putin’s regime, he wishes he did not have to.

“I wish I would have not come up with the design, because there was no need,” he said.

“It’s a strong sign to just show the support. All the drivers got together as well on Wednesday as we thought we’d use the opportunity to just show that we are united and take a stand.

“It’s horrible what’s happening. It’s like a nightmare and we don’t seem to wake up, so that’s the simple reason why my helmet design is quite simple and but effective I decided to go that way.”

The Turkish Cypriot flag was displayed on the design, as the north of Cyprus is recognised by Turkey as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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The Cyprus automobile association [CAA] were unhappy with this, and have thus asked the FIA to order Vettel to remove it from his helmet.

Vettel reveals that he wanted to display every flag of the world on his design, and was not aware that the Turkish Cypriot flag would prove inflammatory in the Cyprus governing body’s eyes.

“Around the bottom there’s just the opportunity as a small sign to have all the flags of the world,” he explained.

“I didn’t control it, I didn’t check all the flags, but apparently there was some issues, some minor ones.”

However, he insisted that a change to the design as a result of a political discourse rather defeats the purpose of the message he is trying to deliver.

“I took the little sticker off because some people got upset, which I think fails the message – the message is that obviously the whole world should be united and is united, I think, to fight war,” he said.

The 34-year-old has previously been outspoken on his thoughts surrounding Russia’s aggression imposed on Ukraine, and reiterates that it is a “nightmare” to have to look at the ghastly scenes taking place in Eastern Europe.

“I think we grew up in times of peace and I think we appreciate peace a lot,” he stated.

“It’s like a nightmare, a shock to see the images and to see what’s happening in the news.”

In response to the conflict, Russian driver Nikita Mazepin has lost his seat with Haas after Uralkali, the former name partner part owned by his oligarch father Dmitry, were dropped by the team.

Kevin Magnussen has been fielded in to replace him, returning to the team with whom he spent four years.