F1 champion Lewis Hamilton is ‘inspired to do more’ to save the planet
Driver lashed out at critics who say his worldwide travel, sport make him a hypocrite
Lewis Hamilton has hit back at his critics after an Instagram post suggesting that others go vegan, like he has, to save the planet saw fans and drivers like Fernando Alonso call the reigning F1 champion out as a hypocrite.
Critics are having trouble with Hamilton’s many flights each year and the belief that racing does far more harm to the planet than a plant-based diet can fix.
A character who will always split opinion, even if his ability on-track is beyond question, Lewis Hamilton often uses his huge social media following to promote veganism and a positive message about climate change.
However, after a recent post saw the Mercedes driver suggest that it was time to give up on the world due to the damage being done by many continuing to include meat in their diet, the backlash was swift.
“Lots of people have their opinions how I utilize my social media, but ultimately it’s my platform and we all have a voice,” said Hamilton during the prerace press conference for the Mexican Grand Prix. “It’s how you want to use (social media). I know it’s not the easiest for me because I know we are traveling around the world and racing Formula 1 cars. Our carbon footprint is higher than the average homeowner who lives in the same city.
“But that doesn’t mean you should be afraid to speak out about things. I’m always looking at things and how I can improve the effect that I’m having on the world. It’s something over time I have become more aware of, and it takes awhile. It’s not a quick fix. It takes time to understand the implications, and I think it’s just about education.
“I’m trying to highlight areas; whether people choose to look into those is up to them. I’d feel like I wasn’t doing anything positive if I didn’t mention it.”
Hamilton hopes to be carbon neutral by 2020. He plans on trading in his normally aspirated cars for electric ones in his personal life.
“I was watching a documentary, and it was just sad to see the things that we are kind of not aware of,” Hamilton said. “It just inspired me to want to do more and reach out to those who perhaps don’t know some of the things that are happening. I’m trying to make sure that by the end of the year I’m carbon neutral.
“I don’t allow anyone in my office but also within my household to buy any plastics. I want everything recyclable down to deodorant, down to toothbrush, all these kind of things. So I’m trying to make as much change as I can in my personal space.
“I sold my plane over a year ago. I fly a lot less now, I try to fly less through the year and mostly fly commercial, so that’s been a big change in my habits. I’ve avoided trips as well if I don’t need to do it, been in the U.K. for example with family and gone up to Bedfordshire and stayed with the family instead of going on holiday.”
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel backed his rival’s comments, saying, “You would be ignorant if you wouldn’t look at it. As Lewis said, it’s difficult for us to get acceptance from the outside because we don’t have the smallest footprint.
“The races happen around the world, we have to travel, so it’s part of our jobs. But in general, F1 should do more. It’s a worldwide operating platform, and I think we should send a much stronger message. I think everybody can do something. Contribute a little bit. If the whole world acted like that it would be a huge difference.”