Sebastian Vettel believes Formula 1 needs to take a stand when it comes to the world’s politics, and ask itself if it wants money or morals.
This season Formula 1 is racing in two new countries, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Following the announcement that Qatar had joined the calendar in a one-off for this season but with a 10-year deal starting in 2023, concerns of sportswashing were raised.
F1 bosses were quick to respond to that, telling the BBC that “for decades, Formula 1 has worked hard to be a positive force everywhere it races, including economic, social and cultural benefits.
“We take our responsibilities on rights very seriously and set high ethical standards for counterparties and those in our supply chain, which are enshrined in contracts, and we pay close attention to their adherence.”
Vettel, however, feels Formula 1 needs to take a stand and not chase the money.
“I think the trouble is that ultimately a sport, and it’s the same as a country, is governed by individual people,” he told Motorsport.com.
“Individual people have individual opinions, and backgrounds, whatever, so it is of course difficult.
“But we have to find the perfect people to sort of govern our sport, and then apply the right path going forward.
“There’s more than just that interest, there’s obviously huge financial interest, in going forward.
“But I think at some point you need to ask your question, and people in charge need to ask themselves the question: do you have a moral?
“Do you therefore say no to certain things? Or do you just say ‘yes’ to any big deal that’s around the corner, but for the wrong reasons?
“I think that’s the bigger picture stuff that people in charge ultimately need to ask themselves.”
This year the Aston Martin driver has taken to wearing slogan T-shirts on the grid that highlight different causes.
“I think there are certain topics that are too big to neglect,” he said. “I think we all agree that – and this doesn’t matter where you come from – it’s only fair to treat people equally.
“I think there are obviously countries that have different rules in place, different governments, different backgrounds.
“Now, I can’t speak for all the countries and be an expert, because I don’t know. But obviously there’s certain aspects in certain countries that I think I know about.
“We go to some of those places, and we roll out a huge carpet with nice messages on it. But I think it takes more than just words, I think it takes actions.”
Asked what approach he feels Formula 1 should take, he said: “I don’t know what exactly is the best way to not just communicate on a flag that lies on the track for a couple of minutes.
“But certainly I feel that our sport could apply a lot of pressure and could be of immense help to spread that fairness around the globe even more.
“Because in the end, I think it’s not right to judge people or to apply certain laws and to differentiate people just because they happen to love a man instead of a woman or a woman instead of a man.
“I think any form of separation is wrong. Imagine we would all be the same, I think we wouldn’t progress.
“I mean, imagine all the cars would look the same in Formula 1. It would be boring: not just the same colour, but also the same aero bits. Now going more into our language, it would be absolutely boring, we would never make progress.
“And the same goes for us. I think we have evolved so much as human species, because we are all different in a way, and I think we should celebrate the difference, rather than be afraid of it.”