F1 champion Sebastian Vettel ‘wanted to send a message’ to Hungary with Pride shirt protest

Sebastian Vettel wears a rainbow coloured shirt and face mask at the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary

Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel said he “wanted to send a message” of support during his jaw-dropping display of LGBT+ allyship at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The four-time world champion wore a rainbow top that read “same love” and a Pride-coloured face mask during the national anthem at the race in August.

He and three others – Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Vettel’s teammate Lance Stroll – were reprimanded for failing to remove the shirts and at the time claimed they forgot to take them off because it had been raining.

However, in a new interview with the BBC’s LGBT Sport Podcast, Vettel explained how he carefully devised the display to protest Hungary’s attacks on the LGBT+ community.

Vettel recalled seeing reports on the Hungarian government’s anti-LGBT+ views in the news, which he believe sare “completely wrong”.

“So the idea was born that we have this moment before the race where we are able to put out certain messages, and I thought it was a good opportunity to send out a small sign,” Vettel said.

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Aston Martin F1 Team. (AFP via Getty/ Pool/ FLORION GOGA)

He told the BBC podcast the decision to visibly show his support for the LGBT+ community at the Hungarian Grand Prix was not an impulsive one, and he had a specific message for the country’s hostile government.

“I wasn’t nervous or embarrassed by the rainbow colours, or of what people think,” Vettel explained. “I wanted to send a message, and I was very proud to do it.”

The German Aston Martin driver explained that the words on his shirt – “same love” – came from the name of a “beautiful song” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. He thought the song “explains in a nice way some of the wrong perceptions people have” about others.

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

Sebastian Vettel isn’t alone in standing up for LGBT+ rights against the Hungarian government.

Earlier this year, Hungary passed a law outlawing the depiction of LGBT+ people in schools, advertising and in media which could be seen by minors. The country’s government has faced seemingly endless international backlash because of the vile law.

Another Formula One champion, Lewis Hamilton, slammed Hungary’s “unacceptable, cowardly and misguided” anti-LGBT+ law ahead of the Grand Prix. The British driver wrote that everyone “deserves to have the freedom to be themselves, no matter who they love or how they identify”.

Hungary’s government announced in July that it would hold a referendum on “child protection” amid the country’s escalating battle with the EU over LGBT+ rights.

The far-right prime minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff said this referendum could take place later this year or early 2022, Reuters reported.