Sebastian Vettel says Formula 1 would be "stupid" to ignore major world issues such as the state of the environment, amid the series' impending announcement of a new sustainability initiative.
On Tuesday, F1 will announce a major new sustainability push, highlighting the often overlooked efficiency of the current hybrid engines and emphasising the sport’s move towards synthetic fuels in 2021 and beyond.
Ferrari driver Vettel says that F1 can have a huge influence over people, and it has to take advantage of that position.
“Formula 1 is a worldwide sport,” Vettel told Motorsport.com. “And a worldwide operating platform. So with all the facts that are available to us today, you cannot neglect what is happening in the world and ignore what is happening in the world. That would be just stupid.
“So it is fair to ask opinions and so on, and obviously a lot of people are following F1 and are inspired by F1, and I think F1 should do a lot more when what we're currently doing to, you know, set a course for the future.
“If you’re [of a] black and white [mindset] you say that it’s bad what we do for the environment, because we drive around in cars and we burn fuel. Obviously F1 has the opportunity to develop engine formulas, technologies and so on, that will help us, that will help mobility and transport in the future to make it more efficient, et cetera.”
Vettel says that synthetic fuels are the way forward: “At the moment we have a very efficient engine, but it's questionable how much of that efficiency will find its way onto the road. So I think overall F1 does have a responsibility, and I think each one of us has a responsibility to lead, to lead by example, and that is why I feel we should do a lot more.
“We should be the first ones and not just have the highest standards in terms of performance, in terms of cars, in terms of competition, racing, entertainment, but also set the highest standards in terms of thinking ahead and looking after our future, the planet's future, the future of the sport and all this. I think it is all linked.
“Introducing synthetic fuels today rather than tomorrow, why not? It is possible. Our engines can run with it. We can do it. We have the engineering power, the manpower. Surely it is not easy, it is a challenge. But it’s not easy to find another 50 horsepower as well, and people are ready to invest a lot of money, so it shouldn't be the limitation.
“If you look at the cars, I think we can make them more relevant, road relevant in terms of the technologies, that we have.”
Vettel adds that grand prix organisers should also pay attention to waste, an element that will also be a key part of the new F1 initiative.
“Outside of the cars, I think, we attract a lot of people at the race track, that come and see the race, support the race, support the drivers, the teams. A lot of TV fans, but it is a big event, every time when there is a big event and with a lot of people, you have a lot of waste.
“People like to have a beer, people like to have a drink, of water, maybe something else. And usually all of these is distributed in plastic cups, plastic bottles, so we should stop that. We should find an alternative to give drinks to the people, but without plastics.
“Have a plastic-free paddock. I mean, just a lot of ideas, and I think we would be able to find solutions, and again, we should be the first ones and not the last ones. It is my opinion.”
Mercedes' F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, who has long made clear his position on environmental issues, has welcomed news of the sustainability initiative.
“Hopefully you remember I’ve been talking about this stuff for some time now,” he said when asked by Motorsport.com.
“There’s a bunch of things, I think it’s great that finally F1’s reacting. In general that’s what a lot of businesses are doing nowadays.
“They said they were being sustainable by recycling some paper or something like that in their office, but it wasn’t a priority. It’s great to hear the new plans they have in place. Of course I’d be supportive of it. A lot of the impact I won’t be around for that, but I’d love to be a part of it, and help move the sport forwards.”
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, in the Press Conference
Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images