Sebastian Vettel admits he has considered quitting F1 over ‘hypocrite’ concerns

Sebastian Vettel often uses his position as a Formula 1 driver to advocate environmental awareness.

Sebastian Vettel agrees with the fact that racing in Formula 1 and raising awareness for environmental campaigns makes him a “hypocrite,” but affirms he does everything in his power to limit his carbon footprint.

Vettel has long been a figurehead in F1 in his push for social justice, equality and ecological awareness, and he arrived at the opening ceremony ahead of last weekend’s Miami Grand Prix with a T-shirt that read “Miami 2060, first grand prix under water, act now or swim later.”

It was of course a message about global warming, and the rising water levels as a consequence of that, but when he appeared on BBC Question Time on Thursday night, it was put to him by Fiona Bruce that he is a “hypocrite” for partaking in a “gas guzzling sport” while promoting ecological sensibility.

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“That’s true, it does!” agreed Vettel, to distant chuckles from audience members.

“It does, and you are right when you laugh because there’s questions I ask myself every day and I’m not a saint.

“In terms of… I’m very concerned when it comes to the future so these topics when it comes to energy, energy dependence and where we go in the future, I think that, to finish my point earlier, and not to get lost, is on energy, we need to stop being dependent.

“And we can because there are solutions in place. In Britain, you have this sort of gold mine you are sitting on which is wind, and you have the ability to increase your energy with wind power, solar.

“Every country has its strengths and weaknesses. If you go to Austria, they have the Alps and they have water, they can pump it up, store it, and get it back down.

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“But without getting caught up and getting to your point, yeah it is true.”

Over the course of a season, 256,000 CO2 equivalent tonnes are released by the running of F1 races, and the four-time champion concedes that this has made him question whether he wants to continue racing.

He does, however, maintain that he does what he can personally to avoid contributing to climate change.

“It’s something that I am asking myself,” he explained.

“Certain things are in my control and certain things are not, I mean it’s my passion to drive a car, I love it.

“And every time I step in the car I love it, when I get out of the car, of course I am thinking as well, ‘is this something that we should do, travel the world, wasting resources?’

The technology used in the hybrid era in F1 informs lots of innovations that we are beginning to see on road cars, and a lot of the research done in the pinnacle of motorsport will help to make every day driving more sustainable too.

Furthermore, Vettel points out that motorsport is an entertainment business, and this was important during lockdown in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“On the other hand, we are entertaining people, during COVID we were one of the first sports to start again and when everybody’s heads were about to explode there were Formula 1 races back on,” added the German.

“I’m not saying Formula 1 has this huge position in the world to deliver entertainment.

“There’s plenty of people if you talk about entertainment, sports, culture, comedy, a lot of people couldn’t perform and then a lot of people missed that.

“And I think if we don’t have that in general, we would probably go mad but there’s a lot of these questions that I ask myself, there’s things that I do because I feel I can do them better.

“Do I need to take a plane every time? No, not when I can take the car, but like I said there’s certain things in my control and certain things outside my control.”

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Previous advocations of global causes from Vettel have come in the form of a protest of Hungary’s anti-LGBT law last year, as well as an all-women karting event in Saudi Arabia.

He also stayed behind after the British Grand Prix to help collect rubbish that had been left behind in the grandstands.