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Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel wore Pride shirt because ‘everyone has the same right to love’

‘I wanted to send a message, and I was very proud to do it,’ F1 champion Sebastian Vettel says about his pro-LGBTQ stance.

Sebastian Vettel wears a Pride-themed face mask and shirt prior to the start of August’s F1 Grand Prix of Hungary.
Sebastian Vettel wears a Pride-themed face mask and shirt prior to the start of August’s F1 Grand Prix of Hungary.
Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

Sebastian Vettel, a Formula 1 driver from Germany, made a splash last month when he wore rainbow-colored attire at the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary to support the rights of LGBTQ people.

“Everyone has the same right to love,” Vettel told the BBC LGBT Sports Podcast yesterday about why he felt it was important to don the colors. From the BBC:

There was a rainbow sweeping up the side of his trainers and across his racing helmet; a Pride-colored face mask as he walked around the track; and that T-shirt bearing the message: ‘Same Love.’

“It’s the name of a beautiful song by Macklemore, and I think it explains in a nice way some of the wrong perceptions people have,” Vettel says.

“It doesn’t matter your skin color, it doesn’t matter your background, it doesn’t matter where you come from, it doesn’t matter who you fall in love with. In the end, you just want equal treatment for everybody.”

Sebastian Vettel prior to the start of the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary.
Sebastian Vettel prior to the start of the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary.
Photo by Florion Goga - Pool/Getty Images

Hungary’s right-wing government is anti-LGBTQ and Vettel used his platform as a driver to call attention to that. Vettel’s action meant a lot to Matt Bishop, Aston Martin’s chief communications officer, and founder of Racing Pride. Vettel, a four-time world champion, races for Aston Martin.

“I joke that, when I arrived nearly 30 years ago, I was the only gay in the F1 village,” said Bishop.

“Now I’m not that, but LGBTQ+ people in Formula 1 are still a rarity. So to have someone like Seb, who is a straight man who completely understands that one should be able to live and let live, and love and make love to whoever you like, is very heartening. It’s what we call allyship, and as I said to Sebastian, it meant a lot to me.”

Vettel’s actions won widespread applause from within the sport, with Lewis Hamilton saying he would join Vettel in wearing the same shirt.

“I was surprised it was so much of a big deal,” Vettel said. “Ideally, there wouldn’t be any reaction because it’s just normal.”

A rainbow motif adorns Sebastian Vettel’s helmet at the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary.
A rainbow motif adorns Sebastian Vettel’s helmet at the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary.
Photo by Florion Goga - Pool/Getty Images

Vettel was reprimanded by F1 for wearing the shirt over his racing uniform during the Hungarian national anthem in violation of a dress code (three other drivers were also reprimanded for the same offense), but he said he did not regret taking the action.

Allies like Vettel are important to helping support LGBTQ people in sport and I love how unapologetic he was about what he had done. “I wasn’t nervous or embarrassed by the rainbow colors, or of what people think,” Vettel said. “I wanted to send a message, and I was very proud to do it.”