The recent addition of F1 to races in Saudi Arabia and Qatar has raised new concerns about regimes with poor human rights records using Grand Prix races as a sports washout exercise.
However, F1 chiefs and the FIA have long argued that the sport should remain neutral and that racing in such places can have a positive effect by highlighting potential problems.
However, the Aston driver Martin Vettel believes there comes a time when F1 has to make a decision for moral reasons, and not just because it wants to try to increase its profits.
Speaking to selected media, including UKTN, in a full-scale interview on human rights, sustainability and tolerance, the German said profits shouldn’t be the only factor in deciding where events are organized.
“I think the problem is that at the end of the day a sport, and it’s the same as a country, is ruled by individuals,” he said.
“People have individual opinions and backgrounds, it doesn’t matter, so of course it’s difficult. But we have to find the perfect people to sort of rule our sport and then set the right course in the future.
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“There’s more than that interest, there’s obviously a huge financial interest in moving forward. But I think at some point you have to ask your question, and those in charge have to ask themselves: Have you have a moral?
“Are you saying no to certain things then?” Or are you just saying “yes” to any big deal that comes up, but for the wrong reasons?
“I think that’s the big question that officials have to ask themselves at the end of the day.”
Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, and Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT02, on the grid
Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images
Vettel has been a strong activist this year on a number of issues, including the environment and highlighting LGBT rights.
And while F1 has done much of its We Race As One campaign, Vettel believes it needs to put action behind its words and do more than just a ceremony before every race.
“I think there are some topics that are too important to overlook,” he said. “I think we all agree that – and it doesn’t matter where you’re from – it’s only fair to treat people equally.
“I think there are obviously countries that have different rules in place, different governments, different backgrounds.
“Now I can’t speak for all countries and be an expert, because I don’t know. But obviously there are some aspects in some countries that I think I know.
“We go to some of these places and roll out a huge carpet with beautiful messages on it. But I think it takes more than words, I think it takes action.”
When asked if F1 should be more militant, Vettel said: “I’m not sure exactly what’s the best way not to just communicate on a flag that rests on the track for a few minutes.
“But I certainly think our sport could apply a lot of pressure and could be of immense help in spreading that fairness even more around the world.
Pilots support End Racism campaign before departure
Photo By: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images
“Because at the end of the day, I think it’s not fair to judge people or apply certain laws and differentiate people just because they like a man instead of a woman or a woman. woman instead of man.
“I think any form of separation is bad. Imagine we would all be the same, I think we wouldn’t progress.
“I mean, imagine all the cars would look the same in Formula 1. It would be boring: not just the same color, but also the same aero elements to make progress.
“And the same goes for us. I think we’ve evolved so much as a human species, because we’re all different in some way, and I think we should celebrate the difference, rather than be afraid of it. “