Overtime after Formula 1 races: Sebastian Vettel saves the world a bit

For Sebastian Vettel, the British Grand Prix does not end with parking his car early. After the end of the race, the Aston Martin driver stayed on the track and tidied up behind the Formula 1 fans. He once again emphasizes his commitment to the environment.

It would probably hardly have surprised anyone if Sebastian Vettel had made his way home quickly after the British Grand Prix. Back to the family, to the familiar surroundings, to come to terms with the disappointment of a Formula 1 race that was screwed up from start to finish. In the initial phase, the 34-year-old made a serious driving error, fell back from the promising 6th place to 19th and last place due to a spin and had given up any chance of points early on in the Aston Martin. When his team telephoned him to come to the pits early and park the car because of problems with the cooling system, Sunday was finally over.

But instead of disappearing frustrated, Vettel stayed on the track until well after the end of the race. To collect the rubbish left by the 140,000 fans after Max Verstappen’s serious accident and the frenetically acclaimed home win of Lewis Hamilton. Pictures and videos show the four-time world champion with gloves and garbage bag, how he cleans between the empty stands. “I think it is important that we all respect our environment,” said Vettel in an interview with the official F1 website, “and don’t rely on someone to clean up what we leave behind.” According to the report, he came back to the track the day after to help out again.

“We have to start somewhere and each of us can make a difference,” said Vettel, who repeatedly advocates climate protection, environmental protection and sustainability. Which of course seems paradoxical at least at first, because motorsport in general and the premier class with its huge logistics in particular are not exactly known for being above average environmentally friendly. And a hymn of praise is also inappropriate just because someone collects rubbish for a few hours. But it is at least unusual for one of the best-known and most successful drivers in Formula 1 history to get involved at this point. The fact that Vettel still has time to give a few fans their autograph and photo requests is a pleasant side effect.

The contradictions are well known

The native of Hesse, who now has his main residence in Switzerland, knows about the contradictions of his everyday life. “When I started paying attention to sustainability years ago,” he recently said in a detailed interview with “Spiegel”, “of course I had to ask myself whether I am not a hypocrite.” On the one hand, there is concern about ongoing climate change, which threatens human life, and on the other hand, everyday professional life, which consists of flying through the world and using fossil fuels on the world’s race tracks. Formula 1 repeatedly serves as a symbol of the waste of resources, as an example of occupations that have fallen out of time, a criticism that is entirely justified.

For Vettel, however, the racing series is also a stage that he recently used at the races in Austria to build a bee hotel with schoolchildren. A second class won the ideas competition and then, together with the father of three children, built a wooden Formula 1 car that bees are now supposed to populate. In the “Spiegel” interview, Vettel also reported that he “first changed my habits, such as frequent flying, and then I talked about it”. Of course, it will not save the world climate if he now drives electric cars privately and feeds them from the photovoltaic system on the roof. But Vettel also appeals, in addition to the private decisions, which are of course easier for him as a multimillionaire, also to link the political ones to the question of who stands up for climate protection and sustainability.

“We should vote for a government that we are convinced that it most authentically stands up for these principles and values,” said the 53-time Grand Prix winner and received numerous angry reactions when he declared: ” Yes, I will vote green “in the federal election on September 26th of this year. This does not compensate for the significantly larger CO2 footprint compared to the average after many years in motorsport, and the criticism of this contradiction is right and important. But Vettel is also right when he says about climate change: “This is a topic that concerns us all and that affects all of our lives.” From which he draws the conclusion, “to raise my voice for something that is important for the good of all of us.” And sometimes a little thing like collecting rubbish is enough. Not to save the world, but to create a little more awareness.