Most Americans have never heard of Formula One racer, Sebastian Vettel. I have been following F-1 racing for two and a half years and, from my observation, Vettel is no posuer,.he talks the talk and he walks the walk. For example, he helped clean up trash following the 2021 British Grand Prix., and he does much more. — wfw
By: Luke Smith, Autosport, May 16, 2022
OPINION: The four-time world champion made an appearance on UK TV last week, proving to be more eloquent and honest than certain other guests, while also outlining his value to Formula 1 as a vocal and honest ambassador
As 20 of the finest athletes in the world, racing in the most international of international series, Formula 1 drivers have grown accustomed to a certain way of travelling. First class flights and private jets are the norm for many in F1, a world that is often (rightly) seen as elitist, detached from much of reality and blinkered by its own dramas.
Yet had you been sat on the 1516 South Western Railway service from Feltham last Thursday, you would have seen a man with tousled hair wearing a blue and green check shirt. You’d probably have walked past him without batting an eyelid, and definitely not said hello or attempted any interaction – an unwritten commuting rule in London.
It’s hardly the mode of transport a four-time F1 world champion would be used to but, for Sebastian Vettel, this was an important day. Having made it back to Europe from Miami, where a clash with close friend and protege Mick Schumacher had ended both their hopes of points, Vettel was now embarking on a very different mission. Arguably, a much bigger one as he prepared to speak up on one of his biggest platforms to date.
This had nothing at all to do with Formula 1. Vettel was appearing on the famous BBC political debate show Question Time, in Hackney, becoming the first active F1 driver to do so. Question Time is an institution within both British television and British politics. Since the show began in 1979, all serving British prime ministers, with the exception of Margaret Thatcher, have appeared on the panel, which always features a minister from the serving government, a counterpart from the opposition, and three other public figures.
Vettel has become one of F1’s most important and relevant voices on matters outside of sport in recent years. Along with Lewis Hamilton, he was one of the most vocal members of the grid amid the activism against racism around in the world in 2020 following the killing of George Floyd. He protested against Hungary’s anti-LGBTQ+ law referendum in 2021, calling it “embarrassing” and wearing a rainbow shirt on the grid that landed him a reprimand for breaking FIA protocols. He has been particularly outspoken about climate change, stressing the need for F1 to do more to be conscious of the issues facing the world right now.