Four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel makes an appearance at Question Time, but what are his environmental credentials if he joins the panel?
At first glance, a racing driver who leaves a huge carbon footprint – and who has spent the last 15 years traveling the world to drive in Formula 1 – is probably not the first person to think of as environmental activist would think.
It’s a fair point and a question to ask Sebastian Vettel.
After all, why should people do what he says when some see him as part of the problem – a member of the global elite who helps produce massive amounts of carbon dioxide and then pronounces virtues of wanting to protect the environment?
But Sebastian Vettel is no ordinary racer – and has taken steps to improve his own carbon footprint and environmental impact.
As he appears on the BBC One political talk show question time What is Sebastian Vettel’s environmental record at Hackney on Thursday 12 May?
Sebastian Vettel question time
First things first, there are a few reasons Sebastian Vettel is in question time: to talk about the environment and LGBT rights.
While he will be well informed, he won’t be familiar with current UK political events – like Partygate or the Queen’s Speech that took place on Tuesday May 10 – although an outsider’s opinion might not be the worst idea.
For evidence of Vettel’s genuine concern for the environment and protecting the planet, all we have to do is return to the May 6-8 Miami Grand Prix weekend.
The 53-time Grand Prix winner attended F1’s eye-catching new event wearing a t-shirt with the words predicting the first ever underwater Grand Prix.
Sea level rise is so high that Miami is projected to be completely submerged within 50 years if the rate of rise continues at the current rate.
Given the importance of the Miami Grand Prix to Formula One, it was no coincidence that Elder Statesman Vettel decided to draw attention to it this weekend.
It’s just the latest step Vettel has taken to raise awareness about the environment.
What Vettel himself did
Wherever he can, Vettel avoids traveling to the Grands Prix by plane and often gets there by train, particularly for the races in Europe – as it’s quite difficult to get the train to Australia or Brazil – in order to do his reduce carbon footprint.
The environment is really important to the German and that’s not the only reason why he jumps on the bandwagon.
For example, during the first COVID-19 lockdown, when the F1 season was postponed from March 2020 to July 2020, Vettel was doing an internship in organic farming.
Sustainable agriculture is an “example of life” and it is “sad” that a “majority of people are not interested” even though they consume products.
Ahead of the 2021 Austrian GP, he attended school and helped set up a “bee hotel” with local children.
He also spent time at the British GP cleaning up plastic waste from the grandstands after the race to ensure everything was recycled.
“I think the first priority is always to make myself believe it makes sense,” he said in 2021.
“It’s great to say what we should do and talk about, but I think you have to do it yourself too,” sends a message to any critics who would tell him so.
“I think we can still get the same out of our lives,” he added.
“But [we can] to find a much better way for all of us, which ultimately is the environment.”
Why it is important that he uses his platform
A veteran with 282 Grand Prix starts, 53 wins, four world titles and 15 years in the series, Sebastian Vettel’s voice carries a lot of weight as of the 2022 Miami Grand Prix, not only in Formula 1 but also in the sport.
Joining old bugger Lewis Hamilton, the two are increasingly pushing awareness of the environment and LGBT rights — including wearing rainbow t-shirts before races and actively speaking out on such issues.
F1 itself is aiming to go zero-carbon by 2030 – and increasingly turning to sustainable fuels – with E10 fuel becoming mandatory from 2021.
Single-use plastics have been banned and all waste on site at the Grand Prix will be recycled, reused or composted.
Both Vettel and Hamilton will have hung up their helmets by 2030 – at the age of 43 and 45 respectively.
But at least they’re leading the conversation and getting people talking about the issue of the environment and climate change and how everyone can play a part.
By going further question timeEmpowering himself to be openly challenged and questioned is Sebastian Vettel’s example – and he should be commended for that.
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