Sebastian Vettel's Bahrain test helmets on Friday and Saturday

Vettel wasn’t aware “No War” helmet included flag of disputed territory

2022 F1 season

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Sebastian Vettel says he did not deliberately intend to feature the flag of a disputed region of northern Cyprus on his anti-war helmet design.

The Aston Martin driver introduced a special helmet design for the three day pre-season test in Bahrain, expressing support for the nation of Ukraine following its invasion by the Russian military.

Vettel replaced the colours of the flag of his native Germany on his helmet with those of the Ukrainian flag and added the words “no war”. The design also featured a ring of national flags from across the world on the base of the design.

However the Cyprus Automobile Association (Cyprus AA) objected to Vettel’s inclusion of a flag of the unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. On Friday evening RaceFans was advised the flag image had been removed and on Saturday Vettel appeared in a revised helmet without any of the flags around the base (above).

Sebastian Vettel's Bahrain pre-season testing helmet, 2022
Report: Vettel removes image of disputed flag from “No War” helmet after complaint to FIA
In a statement posted on social media, the Cyprus AA said they were pleased that the disputed flag had been removed from Vettel’s helmet design and said their president had been advised by FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem that he had ensured the flag did not reappear.

Asked by RaceFans about the controversy over the flag, Vettel said that he had not deliberately included the flag as part of the montage.

“Around the bottom there’s just the opportunity as a small sign to have all the flags of the world,” Vettel explained.

“I didn’t control it, I didn’t check all the flags, but apparently there was some issues, some minor ones. I took the little sticker off because some people got upset, which I think fails the message – the message is that obviously the whole world should be united and is united, I think, to fight war. I think we grew up in times of peace and I think we appreciate peace a lot.”

Vettel described the war in Ukraine as “like a nightmare” and said his fellow drivers were unanimous in their condemnation of the invasion.

Drivers united for an anti-war gesture on Wednesday
“Obviously, I wish I would have not come up with the design because there was no need,” he said. “It’s a strong sign to just show support. All the drivers clubbed together as well on Wednesday and we thought we would use the opportunity to just show that we are united and take a stand.

“It’s horrible what’s happening and it keeps on being. It’s like a nightmare and we don’t seem to wake up. So that’s the simple reason why my helmet design is quite simple, but effective. I decided to go that way. So therefore, as I said, it’s like a nightmare and a shock to see the images and to see what’s happening, to hear the news.”

Vettel’s helmet designer Jens Munser Design issued an apology in response to messages it received on the subject. “We are sorry if some flags are missing or some shouldn’t be there or whatever is wrong in various different opinions,” it said.

“The only message of these more than 250 flags is to underline a worldwide united stand against war and to stay together as one. For this JMD used a stock graphic bought from a stock platform and we apologise for not checking every single flag and their political history thoroughly.”

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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22 comments on “Vettel wasn’t aware “No War” helmet included flag of disputed territory”

  1. Your article is wrong. It’s not “disputed” it’s “occupied”.

    1. Looks like someone else missed the message

      1. Looks like someone else doesn’t understand why this is not just “a minor issue”

    2. Yes it occupied by the legal Turkish Cypriot owner’s. Now stop with your Greek Propaganda its boring.

  2. The fact that he had to remove the band of flags that is what represents the world united for peace, represents better than anything how well screwed the world is.

    1. Totally agree!

    2. Except that the flag in question was the direct result of an invasion (similar to the one happening now), which is directly against the message of peace and no war. If anything, Vettel putting it down as a “minor issue” shows how some people only look at what they want to

  3. I have agreed with many of Seb’s statements and found myself thinking of him very highly as a person the last few years but this one misses the mark.

    First, there have been many wars since he has been alive, including a war in Europe (Bosnian War). So saying we grew up in times of peace is unequivocally wrong. Second, how do you show the world is united by displaying the very symbols that divide the world up? I don’t get it.

    1. @g-funk This missed the mark by a long shot. He’s just ignorant of things happening everywhere else and chooses to focus on what he wants to. He is against this invasion, and uses a helmet with the message “NO WAR” but doesn’t know about a similar invasion not that far away that happened 48 years ago? And doesn’t even apologize, just dismisses it as a “minor issue”. I used to like Vettel, but I lost all of my respect for him with this

  4. He may not win championships anymore but Seb is always on the top step when it comes to doing the right thing.

    A man of principle who actually shows real courage when voicing his opinions.

    If he made a misstep here it was with the best of intentions. The world is such a basket-case these days, how would any of us do ‘the right thing’ 24/7 without the odd unforced error?

    1. @sonnycrockett I agree that Seb had the best of intentions and I wholeheartedly agree with the main idea behind the No War helmet, but it was poorly executed. And it seems like rather than owning that, while the idea was sound, the execution was lacking, he is attempting to downplay the error he/the designers made. It’s disappointing for someone who has done remarkably well in getting it right lately.

    2. I’m with you @sonnycrockett
      Anyone who genuinely believes that Seb Vettel actually researched and chose those flags has to be a fool of the highest order.

      He will have asked for an anti war helmet and the designer has made a mistake on one small flag.
      No disrespect to that flag but a mistake was made and has been corrected.

      Vettel comes across to me as a man who cares….

      1. Except he didn’t man up the mistake. He put it down as “minor issue” and ” a small group of people got offended”. He’s saying what’s happening in Ukraine is a nightmare but that flag was the direct result of the same thing happening 48 years ago, and he says it’s a minor issue. Bit hypocritical don’t you think?

    3. It’s more than a little ironic that the flag in question is the symbol of an invasion by an occupying force and whilst the border is monitored by the UN, only the invader recognises the occupied territory as a country.

      In such circumstances the statement from the designers is particularly weaselly, putting the blame on the opinion of people who object. Using stock images without checking can be hazardous, as they have now found out, but if you make a mistake, just own up to it properly.

      1. Hm , that was supposed to bea reply to @danarcha

  5. Utterly ignorant and cynical comments by Vettel. He doesn’t even have the dignity to address the issue by name.
    “but apparently there was some issues, some minor ones.”, “some people got upset,”
    And obviously no apologies whatsoever, pathetic.

    “I think we grew up in times of peace” – No, we didn’t Seb.

    1. Oh come on! The guy designed a helmet with hundreds of tiny flags ringing the bottom edge. Some group gets offended by one and it’s removed. What more do you want Seb to do or say??

      1. @danarcha

        He could have apologised. When you want to show your support to a country that has been invaded you cannot use the flag that is used by those who have invaded another country.
        Having said that, I believe that this was a genuine mistake and that it was not really his fault.

  6. Carlos Furtado das Neves
    12th March 2022, 20:40

    Who’s missing…???

  7. Is F1 about sport or politics? Drivers need to be extra careful these days. Anything they do can be misrepresented to claim that they desire anarchy or controversy.

    1. @PT Except this wasn’t misinterpreted. He clearly doesn’t care that the flag is of a fake state occupying part of another country which is a direct result of an invasion. He put it down to a “minor issue” and that “some people got upset”. He says that it fails the message, even though that very flag fails the message of “NO WAR”. If he wants to express his political views so openly, he should know what he’s talking about and APOLOGIZE for his mistake

Comments are closed.