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F1 driver says ‘what happens in Alberta is a crime,’ feels responsibility to speak about climate change

Sebastian Vettel arrived at the Montreal Grand Prix wearing his thoughts about climate change on his T-shirt.

The Formula One star from Germany arrived at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in a T-shirt with “Stop Mining Tar Sands,” and “Canada’s Climate Crime” under the picture of a pipeline. He’s wearing a helmet with the same slogan this weekend.

“I think what happens in Alberta is a crime because you chop down a lot of trees and you basically destroy the place just to extract oil and the manner of doing it with the tarsands, oilsands mining, is horrible for nature,” Vettel said, when asked about the T-shirt at a news conference Friday.

“There’s so much science around the topic that fossil fuels are going to end, and living in a time that we do now these things shouldn’t be allowed anymore and they shouldn’t happen.”

“It’s just to think about future generations and the world we leave in their hands, it’s only fair to look after it and not destroy it.”

It’s not the first time the Aston Martin driver has used his platform to address environmental issues. At the Miami Grand Prix last month, he wore a shirt that read: “Miami 2060 — 1st Grand Prix Underwater — Act Now or Swim Later.”

His pipeline shirt created a buzz on social media, with many calling Vettel a hypocrite for competing in a gas-guzzling sport like Formula One. His team Aston Martin is sponsored by Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil giant Aramco.

The criticism included barbs from Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage.

“I have seen a lot of hypocrisy over the years, but this one takes the cake,” Savage tweeted in response to Vettel.

“Rather than demonizing the oilsands, which is on a path to net-zero, people could look to lowering their own personal carbon footprint. Perhaps a pedal-car for Formula 1.”

Vettel, a father of three, told the BBC last month that his concerns about climate change have made him question his Formula One job.

“There’s questions I ask myself every day and I’m not a saint,” Vettel said. “Certain things are in my control and certain things are not. It’s my passion to drive a car, I love it and every time I step in the car I love it.

“When I get out of the car, of course I’m thinking as well ‘Is this something that we should do, travel the world, wasting resources?”‘

France’s Sebastien Loeb, left, celebrates with Germany’s Sebastian Vettel after winning the world final of The Race of Champions on ice, in Pite Havsbad, Sweden, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022. (By Backstroem/TT via AP)

The four-time world champion arrived at the track on a bike adorned with the LGBTQ rainbow, and said he feels a sense of responsibility to “reach people” through his platform.

“When it comes to human rights, or equal treatment, those things are big, when it comes to the climate crisis, which affects every one of us already today and more so in the future — they deserve to be addressed, and (I’ m) trying to reach people and raise awareness.”

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