As the nearby rocket attacks sent Formula 1 into yet another crisis, there was one driver in the paddock who didn’t have to cancel his televised interviews. Sebastian Vettel, who drives for Aramco-sponsored Aston Martin, did not race in Saudi Arabia this weekend, as he reportedly was unable or unwilling to submit a negative Covid test.
A few days ago, he gave an interview to German broadcaster ARD and news agency DPA about the difficulties he is giving the F1 authorities due to his new outspoken views on political issues.
Vettel, as we have known him more often in recent years, was very (self-)critical: “How independent can you be when you’re on the payroll? You can say ‘boycott, we’re not even going there’. On the other hand, you can go there go and represent our western values, show our freedom and stand up for it. The question is how brave can you be when you’re a paid guest?”
“It’s not that Formula 1 chooses where they go on the map. It’s more that countries are moving towards Formula 1 and it’s part of the business model that venues are putting a lot of money into it. speak when you get there? On the other hand, there are certain values that we have to stand for because they outweigh financial interests,” said the 34-year-old.
“It’s not just about Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and the Olympics were in China. The question is how many countries are on the calendar. But really it should be a simple question. It’s all about role models, especially for young people On the one hand it is entertainment, on the other hand you also have responsibility and you have to make sure that you work with the right values.”
The German admits that his newfound candor makes him one of the least popular drivers with F1 management: “Some people panic a bit when these topics come up. There are people who really want to influence what I think about it.” “I’m not exactly the most popular driver in the eyes of the Formula 1 organization. But nobody can tell me what to say or not to say, even if people don’t like what I say.”
Even before Friday’s missile strikes, F1’s presence in Saudi Arabia was already highly controversial, with Lewis Hamilton also being outspoken on issues such as teenage death sentences and mass public executions. The Briton often protests against situations that are close to his heart, although he is also present in Saudi Arabia this weekend to race.
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