Sebastian Vettel is pushing for sustainability in Formula One, one piece of trash at a time

Formula One is known for its extravagant and lavish events, but it’s also a sport that has been criticized for the amount of trash generated by its events. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari driver, is pushing for change in the sport, one piece of trash at a time.

This year’s British Grand Prix was the first Formula One event with a full audience since the coronavirus epidemic began, and it showed by Sunday evening. Several tonnes of trash were left in their wake as 140,000 spectators evacuated the grandstands to join the lengthy line of vehicles crawling out of the track.

Much of the trash found its way into the bins scattered throughout the 3.2-mile racetrack, but a lot was left in the grandstands, from beer cans to burger wrappers to event guides and missing sunglasses. When entertaining 350,000 people over three days, cleaning up a mess like that is, and always has been, part of the bargain. Football matches are comparable, and music festivals are frequently worse, but it’s uncommon for one of the show’s headliners to participate in the clean-up.

As the sun set over the Silverstone track, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel donned a pair of mechanic’s gloves, a facemask, and a plastic bag to assist a small group of fan volunteers in picking up trash for more than three hours. He tracked the trash to the Grundon waste plant in Slough, 65 miles away, the following day to discover how it was recycled.

Sebastian Vettel spent hours cleaning up trash with volunteers after the race and traveled to a recycling plant an hour away the following day to learn about the process. Aston Martin is a British sports car manufacturer.

When asked why he was promoting green causes more this year, he told ESPN, “It’s not like a campaign or anything.” “We can’t pick up everything because it’s impossible, but every time I’m out jogging and see anything, I pick it up and toss it in the bin or take it home and toss it in the bin.”

“I’ve seen a lot of things laying about after the races at the racetrack, and I believe it was a fantastic chance for me to understand the issue we’re dealing with.”

Formula One races at 23 different venues across the globe, arriving on Thursday morning and departing on Sunday evening. The fast-paced sport seldom takes the time to enjoy its surroundings, packing what it needs and abandoning what it doesn’t at the conclusion of the weekend. Unopened champagne bottles are often given to anybody with room in their packed baggage or, failing that, left behind at the circuit alongside huge amounts of uneaten food and neglected flower displays.

F1 has recognized the need to clean up its act in recent years. From decreasing the quantity of single-use plastic in the paddock to boosting the availability of green means of transportation for spectators to and from the track, there has been a renewed emphasis on sustainability.

However, it is obvious that there is still more work to be done. Convenience becomes addicting in an operation where performance is prioritized above all else, and waste is frequently a natural by-product. But, as the old adage goes, you have to start somewhere, and Vettel wanted to understand the scope of the issue over the course of a race weekend.

“F1 is maybe one in a thousand events that weekend,” he added, “but it’s clearly the one that is closest to me.” “I created it to clearly explain and show others that we can all make a difference,” says the author.

“The first step is to recognize the magnitude of the issue that we all face, and the second is to recognize that we can all make a difference.”

“It’s a pity if you believe you can’t make a difference because you believe you’re too little, but if eight billion people decide they can, that’s the greatest impact that can be made. So, essentially, I’m simply hammering home that point.”

It’s tempting to believe that the professionally shot and highly filtered pictures of Vettel in the grandstands were a publicity stunt to enhance the image of a multi-millionaire who earned his fortune in a gas-guzzling global sport. Vettel, on the other hand, isn’t your typical athlete.

The 34-year-old German is one of Formula One’s least image-conscious drivers. He’s the only one who doesn’t use social media and has worked hard throughout his career to keep his public life at the track separate from his private life at home in Switzerland. If he has an ego, it is carefully hidden.

While the majority of drivers arrive at races in flashy rental vehicles, Vettel likes to bike, and he was spotted pedaling through a rainstorm on his approach to the track on race day in Hungary. He spent part of his time in Austria before to the race constructing a “bee hotel” with local schoolchildren to attempt to provide a safe haven for wild bees, whose numbers are decreasing throughout Europe. He then handed out flower seed packets to everyone in the paddock, encouraging them to build bee-friendly habitats in their own backyards.

He’s also been seen around the paddock at many races picking up plastic bottles left by TV crews, so seeing him wipe up the grandstands at the British Grand Prix wasn’t surprising.

“It wasn’t about shooting a picture to look good and show off what I can accomplish,” Vettel said of the Silverstone litter-picking pictures. “Everything was about getting our hands filthy, and in three and a half hours, we gathered up the material and emptied two grandstands, making sure it got to the proper location.”

“The fact that the grandstand was clear when we finished took precedence over the photographs, but today it’s what you do, and it enables you to share that experience with others, perhaps inspiring others.”

“Finally, I believe it is critical that we all speak about the issue we are facing. Obviously, I can see that I have the capacity to influence a certain number of people, and if I just inspire one person, then maybe that’s enough — maybe that’s why I did it in the first place.”

The danger of climate change, as well as the effect humans have on the ecosystem, seems unfathomable and overwhelming to many people. Vettel’s recycling effort at Silverstone and his bee hotel in Austria will not have a significant effect on the global issue on their own, but he believes they will snowball into a larger impact. With extreme weather brought on by climate change affecting people all around the world this year, including severe floods in Vettel’s native Germany this summer, he is eager to take action.

“I believe one way is to realize what kind of position we’re in,” he continues, “and the second is to recognize there’s no other option.” “It’s not like this is simply a fad that will pass and we’ll be back to normal.” This is our normal, and if we don’t take action, it will only become worse.

“I believe we have a chance to manage this, but it will require all of us working together. If you believe you don’t make a difference, you might say, “What difference will Germany make?” or “What difference will Formula One make?” It’s along the same lines as what I stated previously. But, if we all think like that, it’s obvious where we’re going.”

The world’s most prestigious motor racing series may not seem to be a natural platform for promoting environmental problems, but its “We Race As One” campaign includes sustainability as a major component. Although the sport has committed to having net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 and hosting more sustainable events by 2025, Vettel thinks it should be moving more quickly to make a meaningful impact.

“Formula One has a great opportunity since it is televised every two weeks throughout the year — almost every week with more races on the way — we compete in various places and we should set the norm,” he added. “I don’t know whether we have that much time, but there are some plans [for the future], fantastic slogans, messages, and concepts.”

“If Formula One gets so much credit for being so fast and having the quickest vehicles and technology, we should do the same [in terms of increasing sustainability] and act quickly rather than simply speak quickly.” As a result, I believe we can do much more than we now are.

“I believe we should go quickly and ahead, therefore there is enough of material in that respect.” In terms of technology, the vehicles are ahead of the pack at terms of engine formula and rules, but we have huge events, and — forgetting for a minute that we are racing cars — there were 140,000 people in Silverstone on Sunday alone, and many more over the weekend.

“So it was a huge event, and it’s a great chance to communicate and, I don’t want to say educate, because it’s not like ‘we do this properly, and you should do this,’ but simply to show people what can be done and to inspire, rather than pointing fingers and telling them they need to do this or that.”

Vettel believes F1 can make a difference in the next five years by using sustainable fuel produced completely from bio waste. Automobile manufacturers have long seen racing as a high-speed, high-profile R&D platform where technology is created on the track before being used on the road. However, as the bulk of big manufacturers move their R&D resources towards all-electric cars, F1’s existing V6 turbo-hybrid engines may find themselves on the wrong side of automotive history.

But Vettel, who is unlikely to still be racing in 2025 or 2026 when the next set of engine restrictions is implemented, thinks the sport can waste fuel while developing technology that makes a big impact.

“Well, I believe F1 has to find out what truly makes sense in the future and where there is the most opportunity to have the greatest influence on what matters in the future,” he added. “When it comes to the future of mobility, it will be a mix of everything.” I don’t believe it will be just electric; I believe electric has a role and is a wonderful way to begin, but there will be other factors.

“Hydrogen is certainly still a ways off, but the possibility seems to there.” I’m not a true believer and don’t know enough to comment more, but it’s obvious that [hydrogen power] isn’t ready yet.

“However, I am confident that synthetic fuels will play a significant role as long as they are produced using renewable energy.” We must change in the future, whether it is just electric, in conjunction with hydrogen, or something entirely new that will be developed in the next years.

“When you look at the big picture, we still have a lot of vehicles on the planets, but we also have a lot of trucks, ships, and aircraft, and I don’t believe you can power ships and airplanes with batteries because of their size, packing, and weight.” So you’ll have to figure out a method to keep them running because people will still want to travel across the globe and have our products delivered from one location to another.

“For that reason, I believe Formula One has enormous potential.” However, if it is postponed until 2025 or 2026, it still seems to be a long time away when you consider how fast everything must be completed.

“It’s not simple to come up with a new engine or new rules, but you might argue that we should have had that discussion two or three years ago rather than now. But it is what it is, and it is better to deal with it now than to put it off for another year or two.”

Vettel may not compete in Formula One for many more seasons, but he has the potential to be a guiding light for the sport’s future as he turns his attention away from the track.

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