Vettel has been outspoken about environmental issues for some years, often highlighting local issues depending on where F1 is racing on a given race weekend.
Vettel arrived Thursday in the paddock of the Gilles Villeneuve circuit wearing a t-shirt on which one could read: “Stop mining tar sands – Canada’s climate crime”, relating to the exploitation of the oil sands in Alberta.
This was followed by a special race weekend helmet that carried the same message and showed an oil pipeline, which Vettel used on Friday and Saturday.
But for Sunday’s race, Vettel returned to his traditional white helmet with the German flag stripe down the middle.
It led to suggestions on German television that Aston Martin – which has a co-title partner in Saudi oil giant Aramco – may have forced him to drop it. But Krack said that was not the case.
“He wanted to create awareness with the T-shirt and the helmet,” Krack said.
“Then at some point, he decided now, the awareness is created, let’s say, and that was it, and he took it off. He can’t wear the same T-shirt every day. You no more !”
Asked by TNZT if Vettel could have kept the helmet for the race if he wanted to, Krack replied: “Yeah, he’s a free man.”
It wasn’t the first time this year that Vettel wore a protest helmet for only part of the weekend. At the previous race in Azerbaijan, Vettel wore a helmet with a number of climate change messages for practice on Friday before switching back to his normal helmet ahead of qualifying.
Sebastien Vettel, Aston Martin
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
Krack said Vettel will usually inform Aston Martin “long before [a race] what he does” and then they “will agree on how to do it”, as seen at several races this year. In Miami, Vettel wore a t-shirt highlighting the rise in level of the sea in Miami saying, “Act now or swim later.”
“You’ve seen for the past few weeks it’s always been mostly Friday or Friday-Saturday [thing]”, Krack said. “He is free to decide. We are talking about it.”
After running the helmet on Friday, Vettel faced criticism from Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage, who called him a hypocrite for his claims.
“It’s true,” Vettel said on Saturday in response to his comments. “But what you’re missing, and I’m a bit disappointed that the politicians or the politics jump on a personal level, because it’s not about me, it’s about the bigger picture.
“I’m a hypocrite doing what I do in life or what I love. We all have different passions, that’s how I paint my canvas.
“There are solutions for the future to make it more sustainable and not dependent on fossil fuels. And the future in that regard looks exciting, but I think it’s disappointing that we’re breaking it down on a personal level and that we were failing to look at the big picture.
“What’s really important is the message that we need to make the switch and get out of fossils and start basing our whole way of life on renewables. So I think that’s the whole picture that I’m trying to approach.”