Sebastian Vettel has warned that the very future of F1 will be at risk if governments around the world start banning motorsport to tackle climate change.
The quadruple world champion, who drew the curtain on the end of his brilliant career in F1 at the end of the 2022 season, has become in recent years a passionate activist for environmental issues.
Vettel appeared at the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed on Sunday, where he took part in demonstration races in historic cars – Nigel Mansell’s 1992 Williams FW14B and Ayrton Senna’s 1993 McLaren MP4/8 – on sustainable fuels as part of its race. Without Trace initiative.
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Sebastian Vettel seriously worried about the future of F1
F1 was forced to cancel the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in May following heavy rain in the Imola region, with last month’s Canadian GP also briefly threatened by wildfires.
And after organizers at Goodwood had no choice but to cancel Saturday’s celebrations due to high winds, Vettel fears F1 and motorsport could be targeted by the government’s anti-change measures. climatic.
He told media including PlanetF1.com’s Sam Cooper at Goodwood: “Imola has been cancelled. Obviously, yesterday the event was canceled. I think there’s a direct relationship between extreme weather and the changing world, the warming world.
“So I think, provided you don’t look away completely, I think you see that the climate crisis is already impacting a lot of people today, in a lot of places around the world. You mentioned Imola which was canceled obviously you had a massive drought in Italy and then all of a sudden seemingly endless rain and obviously the rain couldn’t penetrate the ground so it just got pushed to the next place and obviously collected in a place like Imola and causing massive flooding.
“You had the race in Miami this year. It was a threat because two or three weeks before, again, it was flooded and the actual track was under water, so the race could have been canceled if it had happened three weeks (earlier).
“You had the fight against the forest fires in Canada, which, with different winds lasting a little longer, Montreal would probably have been thrown off the schedule.
“So it’s a real threat. It might be next year, none of the races are (under) threat, but that’s not how it works. You have to recognize that the world is changing and that it has an impact on our lives. And it’s not so much, I think, as the threat or the risk that people might get stuck on the track on race day or maybe Goodwood.
“I think it’s more of a threat that at some point governments will look at things that they can cut and ban and maybe motorsport is a threat and could be one of them. This is how far I think.
“And I don’t want that to happen, to be clear, because I think it’s a great sport. You’ll see a lot of people coming today, enjoying being here, having fun, so it would be a shame if we were losing that because we just can’t afford it anymore.
“When you look at something as boring as a carbon budget and you just say, OK, well, those kinds of events come first.”
When asked if the whole concept of a world championship, with competitors flying by plane to different places around the world, was in jeopardy, Vettel argued that the onus shouldn’t be on athletes alone to influence the change.
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And he called for changing attitudes towards alternatives, insisting that a greener future doesn’t have to be a worse future.
He explained: “It’s not just for racing, motorsport – it really is for any sport. I think a lot of tennis players wondered if it was responsible to fly around the world just to play tennis.
“I don’t think it’s fair in a way. It is our responsibility as athletes, but it is not we alone who can make the difference. I think the point is that there are alternatives.
“I don’t think getting rid of the world championships is the solution and stopping everything is the solution because firstly I’m convinced it won’t work and people won’t and secondly it would be a shame. It’s about so to find alternatives and often the alternatives are already in place, we just need to change and be brave enough to envision a better future and don’t think that change will always make us worse off.
“I think if you look at it as not talking about the world championships, if you look at the towns and cities of the future, I think they will be a better place. Imagine less pollution in the air, less noise , fewer cars driving around – I think that’s a good thing.
“Think of London: it’s so lively. If there were fewer people and more places to walk, cycle, more green, I think London would be nicer than it is today. It will be much less polluted, less dirty, much more comfortable.
“So I think we have to start looking to the future, imagining it will be a good place and no different from today and therefore a threat and clinging to what we have and not daring take the steps.
“So if you’re talking about world championships I think we should have them in the future, we should have events around the world to show these beautiful venues that we have and bring the sport to different places – but do Do it responsibly and not in a harmful way.
F1 has underlined its desire to reach Net Zero by 2030, but Vettel fears the sport is not serious enough about the cause to achieve its goal.
He said: “It’s a set goal, so I think you have to do everything to achieve that goal. If you fail, you have to explain and so on. So I think it’s good to put a slogan, but what does it mean if we don’t stick to it and if we don’t take it seriously?
“I can make a lot of claims, but how serious am I if I turn around and say I didn’t? So I think it’s very serious and I think he should (be given) every possible effort, all the money it takes – let’s be honest – to invest in order to make this happen.
“But Stefano (Domenicali, Formula 1 Managing Director) is probably a better person to ask because he’s in charge and he knows very well where they are today.”
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