Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton use Formula 1 over and over for social messaging. Not everyone likes that. And now the statements of the President of the World Federation are causing an uproar.
Baku – Almost outwardly, Sebastian Vettel straightened his Ukrainian colored bandanas. The F1 star then made it clear that neither he nor Lewis Hamilton would allow disturbing remarks by the FIA president to slow their political commitment.
“These issues are more important than us, more important than sport. We must continue to draw attention to this and show people that there are many things we can do better,” Vettel said at the start of the guest appearance in Baku.
Statements from the President of the International Automobile Federation
Shortly before the first practice rounds in Azerbaijan, the FIA president tried to pick up his sentences from an interview that appeared a few days ago. In an interview with the specialized portal “grandprix247.com”, Mohammed bin Sulayem asked, among other things, “whether we should constantly impose our beliefs on sports.”
Legends like Niki Lauda and Alain Prost only once cared about driving. “Now Vettel is riding a rainbow bike, Lewis is passionate about human rights and Lando Norris is interested in mental health,” said the Fia President.
When these phrases hit the ring, they were quickly interpreted as criticism of some of the pilots’ social and societal activities. “It may have been taken out of context. But that doesn’t stop us from doing what we are doing,” said record champion Hamilton. Formula 1 is also an important platform for social discussions. “I encourage all pilots to express their opinions,” added the 37-year-old.
mercedes star rainbow
To the delight of the Briton, who has just become an honorary citizen of Brazil, the rainbow-colored Mercedes star is engraved on his silver arrow in Baku. The team wants to support the LGBTQI+ community, that is, people of different sexual identities and orientations. Hamilton criticized progress “too slowly” on diversity.
Ahead of the Baku Grand Prix, Vettel also sent a signal to the LGBTQI+ movement and told gay magazine Attitude that a gay racing driver would now be welcome in Formula 1. The 34-year-old entered the track again with the rainbow wheel mentioned before. President of the International Football Association. “I don’t have to put up with the wrong things, and I won’t,” Vettel said.
He feels united with Hamilton in his commitment to a better world. Time and time again, the two former world champions turn against racism, homophobia and prejudice, and campaign for climate protection. “We agree on many things,” Vettel said. He doesn’t care if someone in Formula 1, who thinks they’re still quite conservative, thinks it’s a bad commitment to act behind their back.
FIFA President Ben Sulayem has been trying hard to get rid of this impression. After all, “sustainability, diversity, and inclusion are a top priority for my office,” the 60-year-old from the United Arab Emirates tweeted. He appreciates “the commitment of all drivers and champions to a better future.”
Bin Sulayem: Do not mix sports with politics
In the interview, he had previously warned, in the style of many federation leaders such as IOC President Thomas Bach, not to confuse sport with politics. Meanwhile, Ben Sulayem said, motorsport has become “too political” for him.
Political messages tend to be inappropriate for marketers, especially before appearing in a racing series, as in Azerbaijan. In the authoritarian state of President Ilham Aliyev, human rights activists have repeatedly complained about the detention and torture of opposition figures and the increasing restrictions on freedom of expression.
However, Vettel also believes that giving up such guest appearances as in Baku, Saudi Arabia or Singapore is the wrong way to go, saying: “If we don’t organize any races, we can do absolutely nothing. But if we race in these countries And we defend the important matters politely but firmly, then we can make a positive impact. Values and principles cannot stop at the borders.” dpa