Vettel: F1 must not boycott less tolerant countries

Sebastian Vettel has been a strong advocate for a number of causes in recent years, including the environment.

In 2021, he also used the Hungarian Grand Prix amid discussions of a law banning the display and teaching of homosexual and transgender-related issues to children under the age of 18 to demonstrate his support for the LGBTQ cause . Notably, he had been wearing a rainbow-colored outfit and helmet, a symbol of the gay community.

This strong endorsement was not the first as he had (and would have) also modified his helmet’s livery on certain occasions, notably in the Middle East, to which Lewis Hamilton joined in late 2021.

While some fans and observers are calling for boycotts of events in regimes where human rights are violated or not guaranteed, the four-time world champion, on the contrary, believes that Formula 1 would make a mistake by deviating from these countries. Rather, he sees the discipline as an interesting platform for making these questions visible and thus participating in the change.

In an exclusive interview for Attitude magazine, which he reports on in the July/August issue, Vettel said: “Formula 1 will race in 23 countries this year. [22 en réalité après l’annulation du GP de Russie, ndlr]. When it comes to LGBTQ rights, some countries we visit are tougher than others.”

“We could refuse to run there, but what happens then? If we don’t run, we can’t change anything. But if we run in these countries and politely but firmly defend what is important, we can have a positive impact. Values ​​and principles must not stop at borders.”

Sebastian Vettel on the starting grid for the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix

Reflecting on why he was so openly critical of Hungary’s actions over the past year, he said: “I did this because I wanted to show that I do not and would not approve of the recently passed anti-LGBTQ legislation.”

“I didn’t do it to be popular, but if LGBTQ people who had been upset about this legislation were encouraged to see that I was against it, that’s obviously nice to know. And perhaps more F1 fans have started thinking about diversity and inclusion thanks to the actions of some of us – and if so, I’m glad and honored to be your direct ally!”

Vettel believes opinion has changed in F1 in recent years and that where a gay driver was once afraid to come out, he says he is now accepted. “Perhaps that would not have been the case in the past but now I think a gay F1 driver would be welcome – and rightly so. I think a gay driver would help accelerate elimination prejudice and take our sport in a better direction, so I think and hope our sport would be ready for that.”

In the history of F1, only two main examples of homosexuality stand out: Mike Beuttler and Lella Lombardi. The former was not openly gay and, according to former autosport journalist Ian Philips, sometimes landed him in the paddock “girlfriend” make “Detour” ; The second was in a relationship with his partner Fiorenza throughout his career and up until his death.

In any case, for Vettel, campaigns like “We Race As One”, which F1 2020 launched against the background of social movements in the USA, must be followed by action and not lag behind the slogans. “The situation is improving, we are now seeing some engineers and mechanics who feel they are able to be more open.

“But there is still work to be done to improve diversity and inclusion in motorsport, not only in relation to sexuality but also in supporting and encouraging women, people of colour, people with disabilities etc. F1 has a movement called ‘ We Race as One’, which is a good thing, but we must all make efforts together to ensure this movement leads to positive change.”

Sebastian Vettel on the cover of Attitude magazine

Sebastian Vettel on the cover of Attitude magazine

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