Sebastian Vettel believes Formula 1 is facing “big challenges” to its long-term survival, and feels the global nature of the championship creates both problems and opportunities for the sport that are not currently being addressed.
F1 usually races in more than 20 different countries around the world, transporting a massive operation across continents every few weeks. While the COVID-19 pandemic has limited the 2020 season, and despite all 10 teams signing up for another five years courtesy of a new Concorde Agreement, Vettel warns the sport needs to make itself more relevant and future-proof.
“Just looking at where the world is, being critical and from outside you could ask where Formula 1 is and what place Formula 1 is filling,” the four-time world champion said. “I think you need to be serious about that — the sport has some big challenges ahead.
“Obviously the whole situation with the pandemic around the world doesn’t help but nevertheless I think there’s some big questions to be answered for the future to make sure that this sport is still around in years to come. With the way the world is going I think there are big things that we need to we need to address, and Formula 1 is maybe not at the forefront of this. It is obviously a sport, it is entertainment, but still I think we can do better than what we are currently doing.
“Looking after the world, the environment, I think there’s some interesting aspects that we are trying to fulfill and achieve but I think Formula 1 has to do more and be a bit more tolerant. Otherwise I think it could get difficult in the future.”
Pushed on what he means specifically, Vettel says there are areas in which F1 does not go far enough to utilize its abilities as a leader in technology and development.
“Formula 1 is one of the sports that happens around the world. Obviously there are world championships in many different sports but Formula 1 is held around the globe every year, in many different countries, and I think as a global sport we should act responsibly.
“I think Formula 1 should be setting examples rather than reacting to pressure from the outside. When it comes to the environment, obviously we are driving around all weekend in cars, we’re burning fuel, which is probably a very small amount of the total energy or total carbon footprint if you want to talk in CO2 terms. But still I think we need to start acting more and more, setting the right example. And not just on our carbon footprint but also on other things.
“I do think every little bit makes a difference — the amount of plastic bottles we consume during the weekend, I think there’s solutions to that. How we power maybe some panels and the paddock, I think there’s solutions to that. We should be at the forefront and pushing developments rather than using what is convenient and cheap in order to make things work.
“F1 is obviously the pinnacle of motorsports when it comes to the development of the cars but I think it doesn’t just stop there. When you talk about the cars, I think there’s more that can be done in order to have a greater relevance for the future, to find our technology on the road in a few years time.”