‘Sport is now political’: Ex-F1 driver on Hamilton and Vettel activism

President of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association Alex Wurz has discussed where he thinks the sport has recently changed in its approach to politics.

Over recent years, drivers have been seen demonstrating support for various campaigns and global issues, something which never used to happen in Formula 1.

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have been two key activists, who have both demonstrated their support through action and words.

Prior to the Spanish Grand Prix, Vettel even made a surprise appearance on British political programme Question Time, where he debated and answered questions regarding environmental issues and Covid-19.

The German represented both himself and the sport impeccably, demonstrating his knowledge and understanding of a number of key areas.

Both Hamilton and Vettel have worn clothing in support of campaigns, with both wearing something LGBTQ+ related during the recent races in the Middle East, where same sex marriage remains problematic.

Hamilton famously wore an LGBTQ+ inspired helmet, in the closing rounds of 2021.

Vettel most recently wore one inspired by the Ukrainian flag, in support of the ongoing atrocities happening in the country.

President of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association Alex Wurz, believes the sport has seen a large shift in the way it deals with politics.

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“I think we’ve seen a decisive change,” said Wurz to the Kurier newspaper.

The Austrian said it was only “four or five years ago” when no driver wanted to go near political and social issues like human rights, racism and sustainability.

“That has changed,” Wurz continued.

Since the pandemic began in 2020, the sport has seen the way it deals with politics change, with the birth of the We Race as One movement.

Formula 1 said that it was introduced “to tackle the major issues that we as a sport, but also society, are facing.”

When announcing the movement, president of the FIA at the time Jean Todt, stated what it would support.

“It shall also harness the positive contribution motor sport brings to society, covering all sectors from health, safety, economy, environment, education, inclusion and diversity,” said Todt in 2020.

The horrific murder of George Floyd also played a huge role in the sport’s new approach to politics and crucially racism, with a number of drivers wearing t-shirts and kneeling in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign.

The last two seasons saw drivers take part in a ceremony before each race, where for a minute they would all stand or kneel united.

However, ahead of this season F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali announced that it would no longer happen.

He told Sky Sports F1 that it was time to change “gesture for action”.

Hamilton was one of the first to announce his support of this decision, telling RaceFans “it is about action now”

“Sport is now political. It’s not neutral,” Wurz added.

“It’s impossible to be neutral.”

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Wurz who is also a former F1 driver, insisted that drivers are no longer shy to “take responsibility and represent the values that we all want to see”.

Wurz has been the president of the GDPA since 2014, the Austrian said how the atmosphere has recently changed for the better, and that he’s been impressed by the way drivers approach the issues.

“Sometimes we just give them a forum to talk. That’s the key, also for the sustainability of the sport,” concluded Wurz.