Sebastian Vettel reveals inner conflict as F1 driver: Wanted to be less of the problem

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 said an internal conflict in regards to his impact on the climate was one of the reasons he decided to retire from Formula 1.

The German hung up his racing boots following the 2022 season after 15 years in Formula 1 and did so as one of the most successful drivers in the sport’s history.

But in the latter stages of his career, he also became known as one of the most vocal supporters of causes he believes in such as equal rights for women, LGBTQ+ equality and most notably on stopping climate change.

Vettel appeared on the BBC show Question Time in May of this year where he sat next to politicians, including current UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman to discuss issues such as Brexit and the climate.

The German admitted he was a hypocrite for campaigning for the environment whilst racing in F1 but did say those were questions he asked himself every day.

His appearance on Question Time preceded his retirement announcement and Vettel has since elaborated on the issue, saying it was one of two motivating factors that made him decide it was time to give up Formula 1.

Alongside spending time away from his children, Sebastian Vettel told Channel 4 that he had an inner conflict when it came to the sport and its impact on the world.

“Seeing the world changing, I think I have a sort of conflict inside and I think the world needs to change, we [F1] need to change and wanting to be a bit more part of, I don’t want to say the solution, but maybe a little bit less of the problem,” the German said.

“That sounds quite bad, but I don’t mean it in a really bad way. Just a lot of thoughts in my head.”

F1 making steps to help environment but is it enough?

The very concept of a sport such as Formula 1 is hard to justify in a modern context when looking at its impact on the environment but to its credit, it has made steps to mitigate this.

From 2026, fuels will be fully sustainable and F1 has set itself the target of 2030 to become carbon neutral.

But the question is not so much on the sport itself but on what it takes to get the show on the road.

While the outside image of F1 is pollution in the form of car exhausts, the majority of the sport’s emission actually comes from the huge amount of freight that it takes to get from race to race.

This statement has never been truer than for the 2023 calendar with a current 23-races on the schedule ranging from Australia to Las Vegas.

While the sport is a global one with an ever-growing non-European fan base, more must be done to make the schedule more sustainable.

In 2023, the Miami Grand Prix has been sandwiched in between Baku and Imola, Canada is between Spain and Austria and the last three races alone will clock up air miles of 14,271.

F1 has to its credit established plans for a regionalised calendar and while the sport deserves praise for taking bigger strides than others, more still needs to be done.

Read more: Sebastian Vettel ‘changed completely when he became a dad’