German Aston Martin Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel, as promised, supported the LGBT community last weekend by wearing rainbows at every possible as a statement against the new homophobic laws in Hungary. But should the governing body have done more, or should they even be racing in a place like Hungary?
Vettel received a warning for wearing the rainbow t-shirt at the playing of the Hungarian National Anthem, and at the end of the race, he was disqualified, albeit for a different reason – for violation of technical regulations.
The Grand Prix took place in Budapest, in which a new law, initiated by conservatives led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, prohibits the positive display of LGBT+ people in media, advertisements and educational materials.
Vettel wore the rainbow top with the inscription “Same love”, although according to the competition rules, athletes must be in team uniform. As a result, Vettel received an official warning for “non-compliance with the instructions for the safe conduct of the event.”
“I’m happy if I get disqualified. They can do whatever they want with me, I don’t care. I would do it again,” Vettel said in an interview. And the driver who finished second was still disqualified, albeit for a different reason – it was not possible to take a sufficient amount of fuel from his car. Aston Martin will appeal this decision.
Vettel was one of four drivers reprimanded which contravenes the race director’s pre-race notes.
The FIA introduced a rule within the notes last year which said drivers should not wear t-shirts over their race overalls during the national anthem or on the podium after Lewis Hamilton wore one with a message saying, “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” at the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix.
Drivers do, however, have a designated moment ahead of the national anthem in which they are encouraged to wear t-shirts promoting messages of diversity and inclusion. Vettel opted to wear his own t-shirt in pride colours, while the other three drivers who failed to remove their shirts ahead of the anthem in Hungary — Valtteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll — were wearing black Grand Prix Drivers Association shirts with the message “We Race As One” (WRAO).
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After the race, seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton was asked about Vettel’s political protest and was very supportive of his actions.
“I think it’s wonderful that Seb has taken a stance this weekend, really to speak out for those in the LBGTQ+ community here,” Hamilton said.
“I spoke at the beginning of the weekend and I think it was important for him to do so, so I don’t think he… he probably won’t be in too much trouble but we have to make a stance. We are pushing diversity and inclusivity and that community 100 per cent includes that… is included in that. I’m proud of him for it.
Earlier, Formula 1 stars Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton spoke openly about the Hungarian anti-LGBT law. Arriving in Hungary ahead of the Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel was spotted wearing sneakers adorned with the colours of the Pride rainbow. “It is not for us to pass laws, but I just want to express support for those who are affected,” Vettel said at the time.
Hungary is not the only country that Formula 1 races are held where LGBT+ practices are questionable at best. Formula 1 also holds races in Dubai, Turkey, Russia and for the first time will conduct a race in Saudi Arabia this year, a country where LGBT rights are not recognized by the government and same-sex sexual activity is illegal.
While it is welcoming to see drivers taking it on themselves to show support and bring issues to the top, just as they have done with gender equity and race equality, dedicated public support and exposure should be made a priority for Formula 1 and the FIA.
Last Updated on Aug 4, 2021