Sebastian Vettel, the four times Formula One world champion, has admitted that he is questioning his future in “one of the most gas-guzzling sports in the world” over environmental fears. Appearing on the BBC’s flagship politics Question Time show, Vettel accepted that he was “a hypocrite” for speaking out on climate change while at the same time having dedicated much of his life to racing cars all around the world.
Vettel had repeatedly mentioned energy sources during his appearance on the show, from issues ranging from the cost of living crisis to Brexit, prompting presenter Fiona Bruce to challenge him over his own way of life. “It’s interesting you have talked a lot, in most of the questions we have dealt with about energy, the need for renewable energies and, here you are, you are a Formula One driver, one of the most gas-guzzling sports in the world. Does that make you a hypocrite?”
Vettel accepted the charge. “It does,” he said. “You are right. There are questions I ask myself every day. I’m not a saint. I’m very concerned when it comes to the future. When I get out of the car, of course I’m thinking as well: ‘Is this something we should do, travel the world, wasting resources?’”
Vettel, who is now 34, became the youngest world champion when he won his first title in 2010, and currently races for the Aston Martin team. He wore a T-shirt in Miami last weekend to highlight the threat of rising sea levels and was the first driver to say he would boycott a Russian Grand Prix following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We need to stop being dependent [on fossil fuels], and we can, because there are solutions in place,” Vettel said. “It’s something that I’m asking myself. There’s things that I do because I feel I can do them better. Do I take the plane every time? No, not when I can take the car. But there’s certain things in my control, and certain things outside.”
He also defended the sport of Formula One. “On the other hand, you know, we were entertaining people during Covid,” he said. Formula One announced a major new sustainability strategy last summer and says that its current hybrid power unit is the most energy efficient in the world. The sport plans to go net-zero carbon by 2030 and, by 2025, to use sustainable materials with all waste re-used, recycled or composted.
Vettel, who is from Germany, said that, while "not familiar with all the exact details" he was also baffled by Brexit and that collective solutions were required to solve the world’s problems. “The majority of German people don't understand - now you are in this mess, you’ve got to deal with it,” he said.