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Why is Sebastian Vettel on Question Time tonight? How an F1 world champion ended up on the BBC politics show

A 53-time race winner in Formula One, Vettel is now trying to use his platform to make a difference to the world

Question Time holds few fears for Sebastian Vettel as long as the questions do not target Aston Martin’s troubled start to the season. Though news of Thursday’s appearance caused quite the chat room stir, it is in fact the ideal showcase for the politically engaged four-time champion willing to use his platform to raise awareness and campaign for change across a range of issues.

Vettel was four square behind Lewis Hamilton in support of his anti-racism stance in Formula One, taking the knee before grands prix when others elected only to stand.

He has also given his backing to the LGBTQ+ community, wearing a rainbow shirt at the Hungarian Grand Prix last year bearing the legend “Same Love” in protest at Hungary’s discriminatory laws.

To coincide with the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, he organised a women-only karting event to promote the rights of female drivers in the kingdom, and while the owners of F1 dithered in their response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Vettel was the first to announce that he would not be contesting the grand prix in Sochi. The authorities eventually read the room and followed suit.

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It is his drive to raise awareness about environmental concerns that he is perhaps best known. Some will recall the hours he spent helping clear the debris left by 140,000 fans at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone last year. It was more than a photo opportunity.

Vettel returned the following day on his push bike to see the process to a conclusion and learn more about how the waste would be recycled.

“I think it is important that we all respect the environment and don’t rely on other people to clear up after us. We have to start somewhere and each one of us can make a difference now,” he said.

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 08: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Aston Martin F1 Team and Mick Schumacher of Germany and Haas F1 talk on the grid during the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at the Miami International Autodrome on May 08, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 08: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Aston Martin F1 Team and Mick Schumacher of Germany and Haas F1 talk on the grid during the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at the Miami International Autodrome on May 08, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
Vettel remains a keen advocate of environmental issues like rising sea levels (Photo: Getty)

There is unlikely to be a more sincere voice on ecological issues from a driver who enrolled on an organic farming course during lockdown.

Viewers will doubtless want to learn more about the progress of the Swiss meadow he intends to plant for his daughters in the shape of a heart. Or on the reaction he received to the T-shirt he wore at the inaugural Miami Grand Prix last week warning of a race under water by 2060 in a city vulnerable to rising sea levels.

Said T-shirt is already a best-seller. That’s the power of Vettel, a voice you can trust.

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