Sebastian Vettel has said that he won't shy away from continuing to raise his concerns regarding environmental and ecological issues, despite his position within a sport that, by its very nature, could be regarded as environmentally frivolous.
Vettel picked up some backlash on social media recently, in which the four time World Champion was criticised for being somewhat hypocritical as he spoke about how he's doing his best to be more environmentally friendly and to reduce the damage he himself does, despite driving racing cars for a living. Vettel was asked about this criticism during the FIA press conferences on Thursday in Austria.
"I think, without diving into the point of the interview, but just trying to briefly explain, I think the topic that was talked about is not something that will be in fashion, and then become or get out of fashion, I think it's something that addresses all of us," Vettel said.
"I think it's also a topic that no sport, and no business, no activity, no programme will be able to duck, to be able to go by or go round. So I think it's something we are all facing, and we will face more and more in our future. And it's something that our sport is facing.
"So I think what I want to say is that it addresses all of us, and we all should be aware of it. And I will not be shy of raising or trying to use my voice to raise awareness for something that is important to all of us. There will always be people who obviously have a different opinion. And I think different opinions are very, very important."
Vettel spent time after the Styrian Grand Prix helping local children install a 'Bee Hotel' in the area, as well as handing out flower seeds in the media pens on Thursday. He also spent some time during the height of the coronavirus lockdown learning more sustainable farming methods.
Speaking in the Spiegel interview that triggered the social media comments, Vettel revealed that he drives a fully electric car and has gone down the route of renewable energy at his home.
"When I started paying attention to sustainability years ago, of course I had to ask myself whether I am not a hypocrite," Vettel explained.
"On the one hand I pollute the environment through my work, on the other hand I propagate things to protect the environment. So first I changed my habits, like frequent flying, and then I talked about it.
"We still eat meat, but we make sure that it does not come from factory
farming. We have also given up the need to have everything at all times
and do not buy food that is brought in from other continents. Instead,
we ask ourselves: Which products are seasonal? What is growing in our
area right now? We just don’t want to leave such a large ecological
Acknowledging the criticism that he picked up, Vettel explained that he feels shining a light on the topic can only help within the sphere of Formula 1.
"So I'm happy to learn from people who have a different opinion or critics," he said.
"But I think there's a chance in the bigger picture, there's a chance for our sport to do better in future and to be more relevant and have a better place in the world. And something I think we can all work on together. So that's basically my points or my standing."