Sebastian Vettel's Bahrain pre-season testing helmet, 2022

Vettel removes image of disputed flag from “No War” helmet after complaint to FIA

2022 F1 season

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Sebastian Vettel has removed the image of a disputed flag from the special helmet he is wearing at testing in Bahrain after a complaint was made to the FIA.

The Aston Martin driver drew the ire of the Cyprus Automobile Association after featuring the flag of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on his helmet.

The territory, formed after the annexation of part of northern Cyprus, adopted the flag after declaring its independence in 1983. However its identity is only recognised by Turkey.

Vettel revealed a special helmet design at the start of testing in Bahrain yesterday. It features the message “No War” and draws attention to the conflict in Ukraine using the country’s blue and yellow colours.

The base of the helmet also features representations of many different flags. Among them is the flag of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Its white background and red details resembles a Turkish flag with the colours reversed and two additional horizontal stripes.

The Cyprus Automobile Association, an FIA member club, said in a statement it has contacted the sport’s governing body to complain about the helmet. It called for Vettel to remove the flag and urged the FIA to fine the driver and his team, Aston Martin.

Vettel wore the helmet during the Bahrain test
An Aston Martin spokesperson confirmed to RaceFans on Friday evening the flag image has been removed from Vettel’s helmet.

The dispute over the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has caused aggravation for the FIA before. At the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix race winner Felipe Massa was awarded his trophy by Mehmet Ali Talat, who was presented as the ‘president’ of the disputed territory.

The Cypriot government condemned the action as “an unacceptable and provocative piece of theatre”. The FIA agreed, and president Max Mosley fined the race organisers £2.66 million ($5m), which at the time was the largest such financial penalty ever handed out in motorsport.

Two years ago Lando Norris decided not to wear a special helmet he had produced for the Belgian Grand Prix after discovering it included an insignia which had been adopted by a far-right political party.

Helmet images: Jens Munser Designs via Instagram

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48 comments on “Vettel removes image of disputed flag from “No War” helmet after complaint to FIA”

  1. And in the news today, more people whining that they are offended.

    I usually try to see issues from both sides, in this case, I can’t comprehend why anyone would be so petty as to complain about a little flag at the bottom of a racecar driver’s helmet.

    1. If someone were to put the Crimea flag there, you think nobody from Ukraine would be upset? (They might be too busy with pressing issues now but definitely if someone displayed a Crimean flag between 2014 and 2021, they would have gotten a complaint from Ukraine)

      And it’s not petty when it’s not your country losing sovereignty over a territory not widely recognized.

    2. It’s a bit more complicated than just a flag from the perspective of Cyprus, David.

      The international community considers the TRNC’s territory as Turkish-occupied territory of the Republic of Cyprus.[46] The occupation is viewed as illegal under international law, amounting to illegal occupation of European Union territory since Cyprus became a member.[47] Recognised only by Turkey, Northern Cyprus is considered by the international community to be part of the Republic of Cyprus.

    3. Ignorance is bliss.
      The Turkish invasion of Cyprus cost the lives of estimated 6’000 – 10’000 people. A quarter million people lost their homes as they got displaced, 200’000 of which were Greek Cypriots.
      The flag in question is the flag of the invaders that are responsible for those deaths and have been occupying the island for almost 50 years. So for many people it represents what the Swastika represents to others.

      That flag on a “No war” helmet is a big faux pas by Vettel. He should be smarter with his clueless virtue signaling.

      1. I think it’s pretty obvious that Vettel didn’t pick out the flags himself. He presumably told his helmet designer something along the lines of ‘and I want a strip at the bottom with the flag of every country in the world’, and that’s what got put into it. I can’t imagine Seb actually sat down and put each and every one of 200+ flags in place himself.

        And the fact that you call opposing the war ‘clueless virtue signaling’ tells me pretty much everything I need to know about you.

        1. +1, t’s just the one flag that’s controversial. Just remove it and leave it at that. I hope the message “no war” and the symbol for peace can stay.

        2. Michel Saelen
          12th March 2022, 10:38

          You absolute right, no hair on my head would ever think Seb would go to the extend of putting purposely that flag on his helmet by himself or told the guy’s to incorporate that flag. Indeed it maybe wrong but still some people argument is totally rubbish and petty-minded.

        3. José Lopes da Silva
          12th March 2022, 11:23


        4. @exediron
          “I think it’s pretty obvious that Vettel didn’t pick out the flags himself.”
          Nor did he check them. Obviously. And that irresponsibility and carelessness is exactly the problem. He just wanted to look emphatetic by flashing that meaingless “No war” sign which helps nobody (!).
          He should use his voice to urge German authorities to help Ukrainian refugees etc. That would be meaningful.

      2. I don’t think Vettel meant any harm but nevertheless it is something that needs to be corrected even if it’s a genuine error on his part.

      3. Easy pal. What you’ve just written could be discribed as virtue signaling. People can make mistakes, espesialy if they’re willing to correct them

      4. Then no flags must be presented. Because every county is formed by war

  2. Electroball76
    11th March 2022, 20:26

    The helmet says “No War” and shows a flag linked to a conflict where there were thousands of casualties? Perhaps he is bringing attention to the issue..Or possibly the helmet designer Googled “flags of the world” and didn’t research each one.

    1. I think it was likely a genuine mistake.

  3. It’s so tiny, I’m surprised they even noticed let alone have complained, but I realize those concerned might find that a naive thing to say. I’d just use a black sharpie and colour it over. Otherwise 99.9% of the helmet looks great.

  4. Oh please, nobody cares about your irrelevant almost-country or the irridentist movement try to make it a country. It’s irrelevant. The Ukranian flag, that’s what people will care about. Quite frankly I would have never noticed the flags on the bottom were it not for the arrow pointing to it. What a ridiculous overreaction

    1. It’s fine when it’s not insulting to your country right?

      And yeah full fledged member of the EU. Irrelevent. Lol.

    2. If your family got murdered, it would be irrelevant for everybody in the world. But that wouldn’t make it any less important to you, would it?

    3. Or you are either a Turkish nationalist or simply ignorant.

  5. The article has been updated as Aston Martin have now confirmed to RaceFans the image of the flag has been removed.

    1. Ah…no need for my Sharpie suggestion then;)

    2. It’s unclear if the matter is now resolved or not, and if Aston Martin and/or Vettel have been or will be fined for this @keithcollantine

  6. How could Seb make such a mistake? Is he an idiot or just evil?
    Let’s all hate Sebastian Vettel for being a callous monster!

    Actually I am amazed that F1 drivers have the time and historical knowledge to design their own helmet decorations.
    You would think that they would employ other people for such things but obviously not.

  7. You do all realise that the drivers do not 100% design their own helmets yes?

    1. Jockey Ewing
      11th March 2022, 23:04

      Well, I am pretty sure, that are they most often ordering/buying the design from some graphics designer/artist. So they might provide some idea/preferences, but most often, after that the design is most likely done by someone else.
      So imo this could have been an error of someone else. Or Vettel has been hacked here by a designer, with whom he was unfamiliar before this event? Considering how small the little flags are on the helmet, Vettel, as the buyer of the helmet might not even spotted/recognised the debatable flag.

      Although I am very much familiar with the situation in Cyprus, and I have read some stories about the Turkish occupation. So yes, I can confirm, what others have said about that. And in the age of high quality photos, I am not surprised that it was spotted by people, who were definitely upset by it. Myself would have removed it as soon as possibe as well.

      On the other hand, apart from this, I like this design.

  8. The conflict is Ukraine involves several breakaway regions in Ukraine declaring independence (through foreign illegal invasions) while not widely recognized by the world. At the same time the conflict also caused injuries and deaths.

    It’s funny to see some comments dismissing these concerns from Cyprus while supporting Ukraine when
    in fact something similar happened to Cyprus decades ago that they are complaining about this flag complaint. That conflict also killed a lot of people.

    At best, it’s ignorance. At worse it’s double standards.

    1. Vlad?
      Is that you Vlad?

      1. someone or something
        11th March 2022, 21:56

        You need to read more carefully. Every single thing he says is contrary to Kremlin propaganda.
        He’s just highlighting the fact that the outrage in Cyprus, which some people apparently struggle to understand, can be explained in terms of the historical similarities between the situation in Cyprus and what the Ukraine has been going through since 2014.

  9. I would have thought the problem would arise for the russian flag first, which is visible on the image
    isn’t that (paradoxically, considering the message and the position of Vettel) forbidden as well by current rules?

    1. @alfa145 Should be or at least one would think.

      1. @jerejj I stand corrected, that is not the russian flag indeed. on the bigger image it can be seen that it’ either serbian or slovakian, I can’t see very well

    2. Zoom in on the picture, that’s the flag of Slovakia

  10. Trivialities.

    1. Flags are powerful symbols and shouldn’t be used lightly.

  11. Now, Sebastian needs to auction this unique helmet and send the profits to an organization which can help Ukranian people

  12. Vettel should explain why his team is sponsored by Aramco, a state owned company from a country which is murdering people for nothing. If Sebastian really cares about the causes which he supports, he needs to step up about this Aramco deal. He is racing with Yemen’s people blood.

    1. People will only ask seb about Aramco or Saudi sponsors when the country decides to wage war in Europe or the West. What they do in their own country or in the middle East doesn’t really matter for the Western media and doesn’t fit their narrative. Sorry, but that’s how it is.

  13. Jesus christ, it was an honest mistake, not a deliberate attack. Its been removed now so what is the problem? Why turn something that was a heartfelt, genuine gesture, and insinuate it was something sinister? It seems people don’t like to see genuine acts of kindness, and look for any reason to spread negativity.

  14. I’m a bit surprised that national flags were included at all in the design since the main message seems to be one of peace and unity. The top of the helmet includes lyrics from Imagine by John Lennon including “Imagine there’s no countries”. Including the national flags seems counter to the very message of the rest of the helmet unless it is there to highlight the artificial divisions nationalistic pride has spawned.

  15. Broccoliface
    12th March 2022, 1:44

    Same unofficial state that got the Turkish gp organisers in trouble all those years ago, when they had the vice president or whatever give out a trophy on the podium. Those cheeky lads.

  16. Seb has a big Ukranian flag on his helmet. That’s what is the focus of attention here. The little flag at the bottom it was definitely not something Seb has been aware of.
    Pay attention to Ukrainian Heros and sympathize with their suffering, fighting an unfair war against fascists like Putin.
    Considering the little invisible flag at the bottom, attracted more attention that “no war sign” or Ukrainian flag, it is obvious that who ever put the little flag there, did it in purpose to distract every “smart” man from the real fair matter that requires attention.
    Glory to Ukraine! Go Seb!

    1. Glory?
      Glory to the United States Empire surely.
      Whilst I am fond of the guy these days Seb is prone to jump upon the latest “cause celebre”.
      Celebrities should step away from over simplifying complex issues. War is bad but this war began in 2014, encouraged by NATO and the US empire.
      Too many people simply follow what they see in our biased media without seeking any context.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        12th March 2022, 9:35

        Nothing that happened in 2014 justifies the destruction of a country and the murder of thousands of civilians. It’s right that people continue to highlight what is going in – specially as many in Russia (and China) still don’t believe it’s even happening.

  17. While Ferrari removed Karspersky adv. They said they suspended in agreement.

  18. It is very easy to say Cypriots are cheeky or that this is trivial, but I take it people commenting like that come from big countries. When your very existence is threatened constantly (Cyprus, Greece in the Balkans) you would think differently.

  19. Good that its removed now we move on.

  20. Bradley Munro
    13th March 2022, 3:31

    Why would they be fined a innocent mistake by the designer of the helmet crikey let’s focus on the terrorist act by Russia’s Putin, F1 is doing their part also the teams and drivers

Comments are closed.