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Sebastian Vettel’s Impact on Formula 1

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On November 20th of 2022, four-time consecutive World Drivers’ Champion Sebastian Vettel officially retired from Formula 1 (F1). Vettel was one of the most successful drivers in Formula 1 history holding the record for being the youngest World Champion in F1. His impact transcended beyond racing with Vettel never hesitating to speak out about environmental issues or human rights.

Mercedes driver and seven-time World Driver’s Champion Lewis Hamilton, in an interview with Sky Sports, was asked in relation to Vettel, “Do you think it takes a bit of bravery sometimes to step off the hamster wheel of F1?” He responded by saying, “There is no lack of bravery in Sebastian. He has been one of the very, very few drivers in racing history that stood for much more than just himself. He has used his voice to fight for things he believes in, all for the greater good…He has always been very, very vocal, very proud for how he's stood up for what he believes in, even at the cost of himself.”

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However, the Federation Internationale De L'Automobile (FIA) revealed updates to its International Sporting Code (ISC) regulations, giving teams and drivers an idea of what to expect for the 2023 season. One update immediately stood out: Drivers now need written permission to make "political, religious, and personal statements or comments."

Here's the full code, found in article 12.2.1.n of the "Breach of Rules" section of the ISC: “The general making and display of political, religious, and personal statements or comments notably in violation of the general principle of neutrality promoted by the FIA under its Statutes, unless previously approved in writing by the FIA for International Competitions, or by the relevant ASN for National Competitions within their jurisdiction”.

Before FIA’s new updates to the ISC, Vettel made it a priority to make the world aware of current and serious issues. Of the numerous matters Vettel decided to speak out for, here are a few:

Same Love

Image by Mark Sutton on Motorsport

Hungary has passed a law banning schools and media to talk about LGBTQ. Vettel was reprimanded by the sport’s governing body, FIA, after wearing a pro-LGBTQ t-shirt before the Hungarian Grand Prix. The FIA’s International Sporting Code requires the drivers to wear their race suits during national anthems, he was found violating the code and was issued with non-driving reprimands. However, he responded by saying, “I’m happy if they disqualify me. They can do whatever they want to me, I don’t care. I would do it again.”

Save the Bees

Image by @CRASH_NET_F1 on Twitter

Some species of bees have become endangered in recent years. Vettel has made it one of his many missions to raise awareness around this topic. At the Austrian GP last season, he wore a “Save the Bees” shirt with the slogan: “There’s still a race to win”.