Why was Sebastian Vettel on Question Time? How an F1 world champion ended up on the BBC politics show


Question Time holds few fears for Sebastian Vettel as long as the questions do not target Aston Martin’s troubled start to the season. Though news of Thursday’s appearance caused quite the chat room stir, it is in fact the ideal showcase for the politically engaged four-time champion willing to use his platform to raise awareness and campaign for change across a range of issues.

Vettel was four square behind Lewis Hamilton in support of his anti-racism stance in Formula One, taking the knee before grands prix when others elected only to stand.

He has also given his backing to the LGBT+ community, wearing a rainbow shirt at the Hungarian Grand Prix last year bearing the legend “Same Love” in protest at Hungary’s discriminatory laws.

To coincide with the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, he organized a women-only karting event to promote the rights of female drivers in the kingdom, and while the owners of F1 dithered in their response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Vettel was the first to announce that he would not be contesting the grand prix in Sochi. The authorities eventually read the room and followed suit.

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It is his drive to raise awareness about environmental concerns that he is perhaps best known. Some will recall the hours he spent helping clear the debris left by 140,000 fans at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone last year. It was more than a photo opportunity.

Vettel returned the following day on his push bike to see the process to a conclusion and learn more about how the waste would be recycled.

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“I think it is important that we all respect the environment and don’t rely on other people to clear up after us. We have to start somewhere and each one of us can make a difference now,” he said.

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Vettel remains a keen advocate of environmental issues like rising sea levels (Photo: Getty)

There is unlikely to be a more sincere voice on ecological issues from a driver who enrolled on an organic farming course during lockdown.

Viewers will doubtless want to learn more about the progress of the Swiss meadow he intends to plant for his daughters in the shape of a heart. Or on the reaction he received to the T-shirt he wore at the inaugural Miami Grand Prix last week warning of a race under water by 2060 in a city vulnerable to rising sea levels.

Said T-shirt is already a best-seller. That’s the power of Vettel, a voice you can trust.

What did Vettel say on Question Time?

Vettel admitted he has questioned whether he should withdraw from Formula One amid concerns about climate change.

The 34-year-old said he is a “hypocrite” for dovetailing his environmental campaign while continuing to race in F1.

When it was put to the German, who won four consecutive titles with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013, that he competes in one of the most gas-guzzling sports in the world and if that makes him a hypocrite, he replied: “It does it does and you [the audience] are right when you laugh because there are questions I ask myself every day.

“I am not a saint but I am very concerned about the future.”

Vettel continued: “It is something I ask myself [whether I should be racing in Formula One] and traveling the world.

“It is my passion to drive a car and I love it, and every time I step in a car I love it, but when I get out of the car I am thinking: ‘is this something we should do, traveling the world and wasting resources?’

“On the other hand, we are entertaining people and during Covid-19, we were one of the first sports to start again. When everybody’s heads were about to explode there were F1 races on.

“In terms of entertainment, there are sports, culture, comedy and a lot of people who could not perform [during that time] and a lot of people missed that and if we did not have this in general we would probably go mad.

“There are things I do because I feel I can do them better. Do I need to take a plane every time [to a race]? No, not when I can take a car. There are certain things in my control and certain things I cannot control.”

Vettel’s Aston Martin deal expires at the end of this season’s record-breaking 23-race calendar.

F1 bosses have promised that the sport will be sustainably fueled by 2026 and net-zero carbon by the start of the next decade.

Additional reporting by Press Association


inews.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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