Can Formula One drivers be activists?

People in the public eye have to tread a fine line between showing an interest in social issues yet also not sounding hypocritical or as if they are preaching, and Formula One drivers face this issue in a greater way than most.

The majority of sensible people on this earth have accepted the fact that climate change is happening and that we need to take action, and many are taking a stand to try and cause societal change, yet if a Formula One driver tries to speak out they are called a hypocrite.

Indeed, they live a jet-set life of luxury, flying across the world to race the fastest cars around, which doesn’t lend itself to climate activism but they have a platform, why should they not use it?

And some drivers have, to great effect. With Lewis Hamilton living a plant-based lifestyle and dedicating his helmet in the closing races of the 2021 season to raising awareness of the LGBTQ+ community and Sebastian Vettel staging a number of stunts in order to raise awareness of the many issues he is passionate about, the two most decorated drivers on the grid are aiming to become a force for good.

A recent example of Vettel’s efforts to promote his social causes is his appearance this week on BBC Question Time. A television show in which political figures and people of note debate the topics of interest to the general public. I don’t think he did too badly.

The political figures that appeared on the show (to put it lightly) received a slating from the public for their inaction on a variety of issues whereas Vettel managed to come out with his credibility in tact.

He proposed valid points on energy use, on cutting ties with Russia and the role that Formula One has to play in the wider world. The head of the panel did brand him a hypocrite which he acknowledged but despite this he showed a positive, concerned side of the Formula One world.

I think he has shown that you can be a Formula One driver and use your platform for change. Of course, if you put your head above the parapet, you are likely to receive some backlash but if you can push past that, I think you might actually be able to get somewhere.

Do comment your thoughts below.

Published in F1

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Álvaro Martínez
1 year ago

To be honest, you can’t exactly sit high on the throne overlooking the kingdom and say to the peasants sitting lower than you “hey! I care about your cause!” while you’re surrounded by the royal guards as you wait to get portrayed by a local artist. In order to remind the peasants that you stood there for a few minutes before heading back into the castle’s safety.

Whenever I see a celebrity on any social media parroting the name of the current social cause I always relate it to a urgent need of attention. A celebrity, politician or any other higher ranking individual can’t exactly fight for a cause since at the end of the day they’ll be back again behind the walls of their castle enjoying the attention they’ve gotten in social media rather than continuing the fight for the social cause they pretended to support. It’s up to the working man and the average young lad to fight for a cause.

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