When rocket attacks near the Jeddah circuit yesterday plunged Formula 1 into another crisis, there was a driver in the paddock who didn’t have to cancel his TV interviews.
Sebastian Vettel, who drives for Aston Martin F1, sponsored by Aramco, is still absent from the paddock and starting grid after his positive Covid test last week.
Just a few days ago, he gave an interview to German TV station ARD and news agency DPA about the difficulties he is causing F1 authorities because of his outspoken new views, including on political issues.
“To what extent can you be independent if you are employed?” he said when asked how athletes can get involved in the controversial political issues of the countries they visit.
“You can say ‘boycott, don’t even go there’. On the other hand, you can go there and represent our western values, show and defend our freedom.”
“The question is how brave can you be when you get paid for it.”
Even before yesterday’s crisis, F1’s presence in Saudi Arabia was already highly controversial, with Lewis Hamilton also speaking out on issues such as teenage death sentences and mass public executions.
“It’s not that Formula 1 chooses where they go on the map. It’s more the countries that look at Formula 1 and it’s part of the business model. They invest a lot of money in it.” continues Vettel
“Do you dare contradict when you get there? On the other hand, there are certain values that we have to defend because they outweigh financial interests.”
“It’s not just about Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, or the Olympics that took place in China. The question is how many countries are left off the schedule.”
“But actually it should be a simple question. It’s about role models, especially for young people. On the one hand it is entertainment, on the other hand you also have responsibilities and you have to make sure that you move forward with the right values. ” and symbols.”
The German admits his newfound candor makes him one of the least popular drivers in Formula 1 managers.
“Some people freak out a little when these topics come up. There are people who really want to influence what I say about this.”
“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 it. What I say.”