Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel has been reprimanded by the sport’s governing body, FIA, after wearing a pro-LGBTQ t-shirt during the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Vettel, a four-time world champion, wore a rainbow t-shirt with “Same Love” on the front and paired it with a rainbow face mask.
The 34-year-old German is an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ rights and previously decried Hungary’s recently passed law which bans discussion of LGBTQ people in schools and media.
The Aston Martin driver was one of four reprimanded for not removing their shirts during the Hungarian national anthem, alongside teammate Lance Stroll, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz who each wore “We Race As One” shirts, part of Formula One’s global initiative to fight against racism and inequality, Reuters reports.
All of the drivers were found to have violated the FIA’s International Sporting Code, which requires drivers to only wear their race suits during national anthems, and issued with non-driving reprimands.
However, Vettel responded by saying he’d wear the t-shirt again, regardless of the FIA’s decision.
“I’m happy if they disqualify me,” he told Sky News. They can do whatever they want to me, I don’t care. I would do it again.”
Vettel had already shown support for Hungary’s LGBTQ community during the Grand Prix weekend, after being spotted with trainers emblazoned with rainbow flags on July 29.
When asked about the shoes by Motorsport.com, Vettel condemned Hungary’s anti-LGBTQ legislation.
“Everyone is free to do what they want, and exactly that I guess is the point,” Vettel said. “I find it embarrassing for a country who is in the European Union having to vote, having some laws like this as part of their [legislation].
“I just think we’ve had so many opportunities to learn in the past, and I can’t understand why you are struggling to see that everybody should be free to do what they like, love who they like. It’s along the lines of live and let live,” he continued.
“So it’s obviously not for us to make the law, and that’s not our role. But I think just to express the support for those who are affected by it [is].”
After the FIA issued its reprimand, current Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton slammed the decision to punish Vettel.
“Super proud of this guy,” Hamilton wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post. “There is no rule that says what color shirt you can wear and supporting the LGBTQ+ community is not reprimandable. This is BS. Well done, Seb. I’ll join you next time with the same shirt.”
Hamilton later added: “Love to see this Seb supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Love always wins.”
Like Vettel, Hamilton had also condemned Hungary for it’s anti-LGBTQ law and urged Hungarians to vote to repeal it in an upcoming referendum.
“To all in this beautiful country Hungary,” Hamilton wrote on Instagram. “Ahead of the grand prix this weekend, I want to share my support for those affected by the government’s anti-LGBTQ+ law.
“It is unacceptable, cowardly and misguiding for those in power to suggest such a law. Everyone deserves to have the freedom to be themselves, no matter who they love or how they identify,” he continued.
“I urge the people of Hungary to vote in the upcoming referendum to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, they need our support more than ever. Please show love for those around you because love will always win.”
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