Ahead of this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, a Formula One driver is causing a stir over his opinions regarding Alberta’s oilsands.
Sebastian Vettel, who drives for Aston Martin, a company owned by Lawrence Stroll, arrived at the track earlier this week wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with an image of the oilsands along with the message, “Stop mining tar sands. Canada’s climate crime.”
On top of the T-shirt, the driver said he would be wearing a custom-designed helmet on race day, which would share a similar sentiment.
When asked about the shirt during a news conference, Vettel called oilsands operations “a crime.”
“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, for nature,” the 34-year-old driver said.
He added that such activities shouldn’t be allowed to happen anymore and his principles made him want to raise awareness about the topic.
“I think a lot of people in Canada, a lot of people around the world don’t know about it and yeah, that’s only a small gesture,” he said. “It’s just to think about future generations and the world we live in their hands once they are old enough to carry on the tech to take care of it.”
ALBERTA POINTS TO VETTEL’S SPONSOR
In response to the image of Vettel’s shirt, the Alberta government said that the energy produced here is “ethical energy.”
“I have seen a lot of hypocrisy over the years, but this one takes the cake,” said Alberta’s Energy Minister Sonya Savage.
“A race car driver sponsored by Aston Martin, with financing from Saudi Aramco, complaining about the oilsands.”
Savage went on to say that Saudi Arabia is the largest daily oil producer among all the companies in the world.
“It is reputed to be the single largest contributor to global carbon emissions, of any company, since 1965.”
“You have a guy here who is from Germany, who drives a car for a living, who flies around the world,” Tom Olsen with the Canadian Energy Centre told CTV News. “Germany, by the way, just re-fired their coal plants because of energy shortages in Europe caused by the Russian aggression against Ukraine. So the whole thing is silly.”
Brian Bateson, issues management for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, also called attention to the fact that Vettel is a German citizen. Germany has paid Russia billions for its oil despite the fact that many other world powers sanctioned the country in response to its war in Ukraine, he says.
“Alberta will never apologize for providing the world with ethical energy,” Bateson said.
Vettel, who is currently in 14th place in the current F1 season, has spoken out before about how climate change has made him question his passion for driving.
This also isn’t the first time he has made a public statement about the topic.
Vettel wore a T-shirt before last month’s Miami Grand Prix with the slogan “Miami 2060 – first grand prix underwater – Act Now or Swim Later” to highlight the effects of climate change.
He has also been outspoken about the environment and renewable energy as well as addressing human rights and LGBTQ+ issues.
Here's a photo of F1 driver Sebastian Vettel arriving to the track Thursday ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. In a news conference, Vettel said Alberta's oilsands are "criminal" and he plans to wear a helmet with a similar message during the race. pic.twitter.com/CisPyjIkfI
— Kevin Nimmock (@KevinCTV) June 17, 2022