Extinction Rebellion protest, Silverstone, 2020

Vettel backs Extinction Rebellion’s plan to protest at another F1 race

2021 Dutch Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel endorsed climate change protest group Extinction Rebellion’s plan to protest at this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix.

XR members infiltrated Silverstone during last year’s British Grand Prix, which was run behind closed doors without spectators, and displayed a banner which was seen on worldwide television coverage. Four people were arrested.

The group has indicated it intends to use this weekend’s race at Zandvoort to highlight the emissions produced by motorsport.

Vettel has strongly supported F1’s moves to reduce its impact on the environment. He helped clean up rubbish left by spectators at the British Grand Prix and built a ‘bee hotel’ in the shape of a Formula 1 car with schoolchildren in Austria. He said today he was aware of XR’s protest plans and supported them.

“I think in general we are living in a time where it is important to raise attention and I think that’s what they’re doing,” he said. “So I think that’s good.”

Formula 1 and the wider world must do more to reduce its production of waste and carbon dioxide, he said.

“If you ask me what I would respond with Formula 1 is doing, I think there’s a lot of things that Formula 1 is planning to do, some small things that Formula 1 is taking action on, which is good. But is it enough? No, it’s not enough.

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“Is it enough what we are doing as a society? Obviously it’s very different in every single country and some countries are further along than others. Some people are further along in their heads addressing this topic than others. But as a whole of humanity, are we doing enough? Probably not.

“So I think it is vital that we understand what is at stake and if we don’t get it, then I think there is no future. It sounds very dark, but equally on the bright side, there’s a lot of things that we can do.

“And I believe there’s a place for Formula 1, providing Formula 1 is addressing the right things and making the right moves. Now, as I said, there can always be more that is done. The small things that are taken action on is good is a first step, but not more than the first step yet.”

Lewis Hamilton, who has also expressed strong support for environmental causes, drew attention to Formula 1’s aim to become carbon neutral by 2030 when asked about XR’s protest plans.

“Ultimately it’s not my responsibility to go and do a presentation to them telling them what Formula 1 is doing. But Formula 1 has already expressed the steps in which they want to take by 2030.

“Naturally things don’t change overnight and I think it’s great that Formula 1 are accepting and holding themselves responsible and realising that they do need to make changes moving forwards. And then ultimately us drivers we rely on Formula 1 and the organisers to make sure that we’re trying to have as positive an impact on the places we go to.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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39 comments on “Vettel backs Extinction Rebellion’s plan to protest at another F1 race”

  1. I quite like this era Vettel, he’s not afraid to put his head above the parapet and say what he thinks. He could easily tow the party line, not bother and haver an easier life as a result. I’m sure, plenty will accuse him of hypocrisy, but I think by and large he is just saying anything what most would agree with and live their lives with a similar attitude. The only difference is that he’s high profile.

    1. Exactly this. His head seems to be in the right place and he can use his high profile to get the message across.

    2. Vettel has good qualities

  2. I immediately recognized the image from last year’s first Silverstone weekend, although the banner didn’t get shown on the world feed. At least not purposefully filmed, i.e., at max a glance in the background or frame edge as otherwise, I would’ve noticed.
    Nevertheless, the present Seb is quite more vocal and slightly political, like Lewis, than before.
    The carbon neutrality thing, several ways, race calendar, sustainable/eco-friendly fuels or some other energy source, and others.

  3. Having been around Extinction Rebellion people as part of the animal rights movements (the two do intersect) I am not sure Vettel realises they absolutely have no time for things like F1. They’d stop it right now if they could. It represents the very worst kind of selfish capitalist consumption that many within the ER movement have zero time for.

    The ‘doing enough’ is literally cancelling F1. That’s not an exaggeration. The amount of energy F1 consumes, what it actually represents from a societal perspective, it everything those wthin ER who I have communicated with stand against.

    1. The ‘doing enough’ is literally cancelling F1.

      The problem with ‘those types’ in any green movement is they ignore the big picture for ideological puritanism.

      Most Green political parties oppose fossil fuels, but don’t recognise that a renewable/electrified future needs some form of large-scale power generation and the only credible answer comes from a combination of nuclear and renewables, but they oppose the former (largely because they refuse to acknowledge the leaps Nuclear Power has come to re-use & recycle it’s fuel and operate safely) and embrace the latter despite the cost to the environment of manufacturing solar panels & turbines. It’s hypocrisy, largely dreamt up by a lack of knowledge and anti-nuclear pressure from other angles (including the fossil fuel lobby).

      You don’t shut down F1 – you push to make it and its racing sustainable. The cars racing already only contribute about 5% of the global emissions the sport generates. What the sport really needs to do is plan the calendar more sensibly and prioritise cleaner methods of moving freight. Unfortunately, what I suspect they’ll do is just what most other companies are doing – purchasing carbon credits to offset the damage rather than fix the problems.

      Just like climate change is a creeping problem, so must the solution(s) be gradual – to just radically change everything is just going to get everyone’s back up.

      1. This is true. F1 would actually be more “green” if the cost cap were smaller and a Dinosaur (v8 or so) engine were used in lieu of massive development of hybrid energy systems and very complicated turbogenerators. Set a limit on how much the teams can ship between events. The fuel consumption over the weekend is nil in comparison to the overall carbon footprint.

      2. You do shut down F1 because of what it represents – rampant capitalism and consumerism. We literally burn fuel for fun. Just look at the kind of businesses and people who frequent the F1 grid and scene. It’s never going to be the bastion of environmentalism. A lot of F1 is either manufacturers trying to sell cars (individual personal transport is bad) or companies selling products (is there anything more damaging than sugary drinks with no nutritional value?)

        F1 is also not just one series though, it’s more than that. The amount of ‘damage’ done in the feeder formulas and other forms of motorsport under the sphere of F1 influence. It isn’t just F1 that ER will protest against, it’ll soon be all of it. It’s the symbolic nature of F1 that’s the problem. No amount of hybridization, electrification or whatever carbon-neutral plan will change that.

  4. I think they should protest at Spa

    1. For half points?

  5. Stephen Higgins
    2nd September 2021, 16:16

    If only all environmental activists were instead entrepreneurial engineers….

  6. ICE Motorsport is a non-issue and should be the last to go. The fossil fuel powerplants, general population cars/planes, and the extra 3 billion people appearing in the next century will finish us off, not a few cars pootlingaround a track. The protest itself may be good for general exposure, but they’re targeting the smallest of the bogeymen, it seems like.

    1. Exactly. The entire concept of unrestrained capitalism requiring constant growth is the problem. Governments need to regulate more but the opposite is happening. We need to plan our future rather than maximizing profits in the short term with little regard for the future we are creating. If I look back 10, 20, or 30 years and ask if we are in a better place than we were then the answer is a definite NO. This trend will continue however no one in charge is interested in altering course for a better future rather than immediate profits for a small number of companies and people.

      1. So, as we’ve seen over the last year and a half 150m+ have been plunged into extreme poverty. That means they are more likely to live appalling lives and die much earlier than we are. I happen to believe in time we will recognise that what we have done is a humanitarian disaster on an biblical scale.

        When we say ‘constant’ growth is the problem, the evidence suggests that when you step away from that (via lockdowns, which is how you stop business and economic growth fundementally) you basically sign the death warrants for hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people.

        This, is something ER and other enviroenmental lobbiests seems totally blind too. How exactly are you going to avert plunging hundreds of millions (maybe billions) into extreme poverty in the short term. The end of rampant growth the last year saw the first reversal in the decline in extreme poverty since 1997. I’ve yet to see any strategy to stop economic growth without basically killing hundreds of millions of people (via extreme poverty).

      2. You’re wrong
        The proportion of the world’s population living in extreme poverty has more than halved in the last 20 years. In fact, rates of extreme poverty have dropped faster than ever before over the last two decades – from 29.5% of the world’s population in 1997 to just 9.1% in 2017. (Data: World Bank)

        Many mass media in Europe wants us to believe the misconception that capitalism is bad and we have to eat less meat and polute less and bla bla bla… while China just keep growing and ignoring the basic environmental measures.

        Just observe the growth of southeast Asia GDP in the last 30 years thanks capitalism.

  7. Sadly I think SV will regret his words when XR glue themselves to the track.

    Their approach is always extreme, and only does harm to the environmental movement. SV’s considered approach to environmental issues is not their style.

    1. When I read ‘glue themselves to the track’ my instant thought was ‘Ooh a new chicane’…

      1. Strange. I was logged in but had to do the above comment like I was logged out.

      2. Great. All we need is another row over track limits…

    2. What exactly do they do

      1. Give Children nightmares…

    3. Just get the safety car out first to clear the track. I’m sure they’ll manage to unglue themselves pretty quick when they see an Aston hurtling towards them. 😁

  8. Coventry Climax
    2nd September 2021, 18:40

    I’m not a Vettel fan, but I’ve come to like him a lot more over the last year. His attitude towards XR’s plans is a lot less abrasive than the attitude of a lot of those who still don’t get it, to use Vettels words. That includes some of the people reacting here, I’m afraid. It also seems Vettel gets it a lot better than Hamilton, given both their replies.
    I guess it will take another couple of Ida’s and a couple hunderd more deaths due to flooding in area’s that are closer to home for ‘us westerners’, like what recently happend in the south of Netherlands, Belgian/German area.
    Those still saying there should be an unsponsored alternative to fossils, should start doing the math and calculate the immense amount of money it takes to rebuild those regions, apart from the impossible to express -in whatever currency- value of the lost lives. That’s money to spend due to fossils, in other words, (wasted) sponsor money. And even with that said about lives, the problem is not driving a Hummer that consumes 4 litres to the kilometer, it’s 7,5 billion people wanting to do it. It’s not the 5% F1 contributes, it’s that together with all the other things, it adds up to 100%. Stop making this insane amount of children. And pointing at one another, yelling like a child ‘But he’s doing it too!’ has never solved any problem. Neither has saying ‘But we’re already doing our share’, which I hear all too often lately. It’s insulting, as long as the problem isn’t solved yet.
    Solve the problem first, and then start talking about which share is whose. Or face the gloomy future Vettel rightfully talks about.

    1. ‘It also seems Vettel gets it a lot better than Hamilton’

      I think Hamilton’s Vegan lifestyle is a lesson to all of us, we need to stop mass producing and eating meat, apart from the environmental impact, its full of Pharmaceuticals that are a biological disaster in waiting, then there’s genetic engineering, which has been described as a ‘ticking time bomb’ as we do not fully understand the roll of recessive genes, all this and everyone’s attention is focused on CO2…0.042% of the Earths atmosphere with Humans contributing 0.0016%

      1. Hamilton wears leather, so he is more ‘plant based diet’ than vegan lifestyle. vegans don’t wear leather

        1. True.. But what will the Vegan’s do when the learn of the bio-responsiveness of plants, plants communicate with each other.. Leather is a by-product, waste not want not…

          1. Leather isn’t a by-product. Leather is a central component to maximising the profit out of slaughtering an innocent animal. It’s like saying meat is a by-product from the leather industry.

            On the plants feel pain trope, I’m not going there.

  9. Let’s see a comparison of emissions between a diesel lorry and an F1 car. With fuel efficiencies over 50%, the emissions from the F1 cars should be substantially cleaner.

    1. Ive never bothered checking this because I really don’t care but I’am sure someone will fact check it.. A family Dog will produce during its lifetime a bigger Carbon footprint than a 4×4 SUV ( Food production, transportation etc etc)

      1. @f1-plossl The SUV comparison is one of those popular stats-can-be-used-to-make-myths things; it’s possible a really big dog might produce more emissions annually than a car with absurdly low mileage (I’ve seen 6,000 miles quoted which is lower than even then – very low – uk average of 7,400) if you only look at the exhaust emissions of the SUV while taking a holistic approach to the agriculture used to feed the dog.

        However, the dog will not have required 30 tons of carbon emissions just to make and although animal farming is very intensive, extraction, refining and transporting petrochemicals around the earth also has enormous carbon costs.

        1. Thanks for the reply Hazel, I really meant the production costs, but if you throw in the ‘running costs’ there really isnt much difference

          The carbon footprint of a new car:
          6 tonnes CO2e: Citroen C1, basic spec
          17 tonnes CO2e: Ford Mondeo, medium spec
          35 tonnes CO2e: Land Rover Discovery, top of the range

          Pim Martens, professor of sustainable development at Maastricht University, said that—as with humans—animal carbon footprints “depend on where you live in the world”.

          In a 2019 study, Martens found the lifetime emissions of a dog weighing 10-20 kilogrammes in the Netherlands was anywhere between 4.2 and 17 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

          For the same dog living in China, emissions were between 3.7-19.1 tonnes. In Japan however, the same dog would be expected to produce 1.5-9.9 tonnes during its life.

          Ten tonnes of CO2 is roughly the same as the emissions produced by two cars every year.

          1. So if someone turns up to an extinction rally driving a Ford Mondeo with two Labradors you can call them out…

          2. Nothing against ExR but if you wanna blockade stuff, dont do it against people trying to get on with there lives, people, many who might be on zero hours contracts trying to get to work in the capitol ain’t achieving nothing but grief, why not go out to the oil processing plants at Llandancy or Milford Haven, I remember collecting Tins of food for the Miners in the 80’s as a child, there was a solidarity about it, ExR are doing the right thing, but in the wrong places.

          3. There is a lot of debate about ‘dog-ownership’ within eco communities because a lot of them are vegans or close to. Most do not support breeding Labradors and the like (‘family dogs’ often come from breeders). You’ll find the only support for dog companionship is rescues.

            So if you think that’s a ‘gotcha’ you might be mistaken. They are probably more sympathetic to the notion dog-ownership isn’t particularly green or ethical than you think.

  10. It’s interesting how the environmental focus in recent years has just become about emissions. When we’re talking about extinction right now, the biggest factor is still clearing and habitat loss. Unfortunately there’s no money to be made for businesses to restore ecosystems so, at least in Australia, it’s left to local and state governments which simply don’t have enough funding. There’s also little economic incentive for individuals to get into on-the-ground conservation cause you barely earn enough to live on, certainly in our major cities, even though ecological restoration usually requires a bachelor or diploma level qualification. The occasional project will get say a grant for 3 years but it’s pretty ineffective as you need ongoing management to make any real impact. And then generally speaking, people only think of large animals when it comes to extinction but there are so many other species, especially plants which are under threat. The pessimist in me sees little light at the end of the tunnel…

  11. I like Vettel a lot. Love him as a driver, respect his views, and applaud his attitude to making a difference.

    But the eco preaching is a bit rich when he must make near 50 flights a year (20+ grand prix plus trips to the factory).

    If he really wants to “do enough” then that would be a good place to start.

  12. Another DSQ in the waiting for car number 5

  13. I support action on climate change, but not a bunch of criminals out to cause damage and ruin sports events. Just yesterday they smashed up a bank and caused huge tailbacks on the roads of London. The ironic thing being of course that the traffic jams caused more emissions.

    Hopefully the Dutch police will arrest any troublemakers immediately.

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