German Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel arrived at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal wearing a shirt that reads “STOP MINING TAR SANDS” and “CANADA’S CLIMATE CRIME” in an apparent protest of the Canadian Oil and Gas industry on Friday.
Alberta’s Energy Minister Sonya Savage responded to Vettel on Twitter shortly after, calling it “hypocrisy” that “a race car driver sponsored by Aston Martin, with financing from Saudi Aramco, [is] complaining about the oilsands.”
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? ????????????️ 3/3
— Sonya Savage (@sonyasavage) June 17, 2022
“Saudi Aramco has the largest daily oil production of all companies in the world,” Savage wrote. “It is reputed to be the single largest contributor to global carbon emissions, of any company, since 1965.”
When asked about the shirt during a press conference, Vettel called out Alberta and said the oil and gas industry in the province is criminal.
“I do a lot of reading on the subject because I find this fascinating, might be the wrong word. But it’s, you know, there’s a lot going on in the time and age where we are so much aware of a lot of things,” said Vettel during F1’s pre-race press conference Friday morning.
“I think you know, 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 tar sands mining oil sands mining is horrible for nature. And obviously, Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions also have gone up since they started doing it. The site has only been as high as I read was founded like 20 years ago.
“I think the Prime Minister said that no other country would find these resources and not dig them up,” Vettel continued. “I think in principle, you know, every country and every person has their opinions and their stance. My personal opinion is I disagree.”
Vettel's t-shirt and racing helmet both call for an end to development in the oilsands, calling it 'Canada's Climate Crime'.
— Courtney Theriault (@cspotweet) June 17, 2022
“I think, you know, as I said, there’s so much science around the topic that fossil fuels are going to end and living in a time that we do now. The distinction is allowed anymore, and that shouldn’t happen. So I think it’s just in principle to raise awareness of what’s going on in the first place.
“I think a lot of people in Canada and a lot of people around the world don’t know about it. And then yeah, that’s that’s only a small gesture. We’ll have a special helmet as well this weekend. highlighting the fact and yeah, I think, you know, it’s just to think about future generations and the world we live in their hands once they’re old enough to carry on the tape to take care of it. I think it’s only fair to look after it and not destroy it.”
Jens Munser Designs revealed the helmet Vettel will wear during Sunday’s race in a tweet.
— Jens Munser Designs (@JMD_helmets) June 17, 2022
–With files from Tom Ross