Appearing on BBC’s Question Time, the four-time world champion said the global climate crisis has made him question whether continuing in the sport is the right thing to do.
When asked by presenter Fiona Bruce whether being a star in a “gas guzzling” sport and campaigning for reducing carbon emissions made him a hypocrite, he replied: “It does.”
Vettel wore a T-shirt ahead of last weekend’s inaugural Miami Grand Prix which read: “Miami 2060. First Grand Prix under water. Act now or swim later.”
But when it was put to the German, who won four consecutive titles with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013, that he competes in one of the most gas-guzzling sports in the world and if that makes him a hypocrite, he replied: “It does, it does and you [the audience] are right when you laugh because there are questions I ask myself every day.
“I am not a saint but I am very concerned about the future.”
Vettel continued: “It is something I ask myself [whether I should be racing in Formula One] and travelling the world.
“It is my passion to drive a car and I love it, and every time I step in a car I love it, but when I get out of the car I am thinking: ‘is this something we should do, travelling the world and wasting resources?’
“On the other hand, we are entertaining people and during Covid-19, we were one of the first sports to start again. When everybody’s heads were about to explode there were F1 races on.
“In terms of entertainment, there are sports, culture, comedy and a lot of people who could not perform [during that time] and a lot of people missed that and if we did not have this in general we would probably go mad.
“There are things I do because I feel I can do them better. Do I need to take a plane every time [to a race]? No, not when I can take a car. There are certain things in my control and certain things I cannot control.”
Vettel’s Aston Martin deal expires at the end of this season’s record-breaking 23-race calendar.
F1 bosses have promised that the sport will be sustainably fuelled by 2026 and net-zero carbon by the start of the next decade.