Sebastian Vettel questions F1’s credibility over sustainability moves

Sam Cooper
Sebastian Vettel on the grid. Zandvoort September 2022.

Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel wears a 'climate justice now' shirt on the grid. Zandvoort September 2022.

Sebastian Vettel has said if Formula 1 judges itself, all of its environmental pledges are just “a nice slogan”.

The German has become one of the leading voices in F1 in recent years when it comes to speaking about topics he is passionate about and in that regard, it seems nothing is more important to Vettel than matters of the environment.

Throughout this season, he has been known to wear special race helmets raising awareness to issues ongoing in the host country and earlier this year he appeared on the BBC’s Question Time show in the UK.

During the broadcast, Vettel was asked about his views on climate change and while he admitted to being a hypocrite, he called on world leaders to do more when it comes to tackling the climate emergency.

Considering the travel logistics involved, Formula 1 has the perception of being one of the worst sports when it comes to carbon emissions and the sport has set goals to make itself greener.

The engines, while still being V6s, use sustainable fuel and the sport’s bosses have given 2030 as their target to be carbon-neutral.

However, Vettel has questioned the legitimacy of these targets and said if there is nobody there to control F1, these goals are simply “a nice slogan”.

“The question is what happens if they don’t meet the targets?” he asked during an interview with Auto Motor und Sport. “Who is the controller?

“If Formula 1 controls itself, that’s a nice slogan but not particularly credible. In the end, it is important that you are also prepared to take a slice of your own profits in order to take credible steps with it.”

While F1 has pledged to be more environmentally friendly, this week they announced a record 24-race calendar which will see the sport travel to five different continents.

Additionally, not all races have been arranged geographically, so following the race in Azerbaijan the teams will travel to Miami only to return to Europe and Italy two weeks later.

The Canadian Grand Prix has also been shoehorned in between the Spanish and Austrian Grands Prix.

Vettel has argued the rush to increase the viewership has pushed environmental concerns to the background.

“Formula 1 is experiencing a boom right now, also due to the Netflix series. And now people are desperate to take advantage of this boom,” complains Vettel.

“The [e-fuel] technology is already there. It’s not a new technology. Formula 1 likes to claim it is a technical pioneer. They would have been pioneers if they had unpacked it 10 years ago. But better late than never.”