Hamilton reconciles his green habits with F1 jet-setting

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and Mexican boxing legend Julio Cesar Chavez (front) having a friendly skirmish during a boxing exhibition match in Mexico City ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix. The Briton can seal his sixth Formula One championship thi
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and Mexican boxing legend Julio Cesar Chavez (front) having a friendly skirmish during a boxing exhibition match in Mexico City ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix. The Briton can seal his sixth Formula One championship this weekend. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MEXICO CITY • Lewis Hamilton detailed how he was reducing his carbon footprint on Thursday and defended his right to speak out on the environment while racing around the world with Formula One.

The Mercedes ace, who can seal his sixth world drivers' title in Mexico this weekend, said he flew for pleasure less, banned single-use plastics from home and office and aimed to be carbon neutral by the end of the year.

The Briton, who has sold his private jet, said he now mostly flies commercial.

"That's been a big change in my habits. I've avoided trips if I didn't need to do them," he said.

He got rid of some of his collection of luxury cars, which he said he rarely drove anyway, and switched to hybrid or electric models. He said he was also working with the team and Mercedes on a more environmentally friendly approach.

"I want everything recyclable, down to deodorant, toothbrush, all these kinds of things. I'm trying to make as much change as I can in my personal space," he said.

"I feel positive that I am making those changes. I'm encouraging people around me also, my friends are seeing me doing that and also being more conscious."

Hamilton, who is vegan, attracted both criticism and support after a series of posts on social media last week in which he deplored the state of the planet.

He said on Thursday his comments had been triggered by watching a documentary and he had wanted to raise awareness.

He said he still loved racing, but had "no interest whatsoever" in switching to the all-electric Formula E series, and accepted criticism for calling for change while continuing to race in F1.

"It is not the easiest because, yes, we are travelling around the world and we are racing F1 cars. Our carbon footprint for sure is higher than the average homeowner that lives in the same city," he said.

"But it doesn't mean you should be afraid to speak out about things that can be for a positive change.

"I am looking at how I can improve the effect I am having on the world. It takes a while. It's not a quick fix. It's just about education and I am trying to highlight areas."

His stance was supported by other F1 drivers.

"Just because we're in F1 doesn't mean we don't care about the environment," said Red Bull's British-born Thai racer Alexander Albon.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, a four-time world champion who stays well clear of social media and keeps his personal life off the radar, said the sport must do more.

"You would be ignorant if you wouldn't look at it. As Lewis mentioned, it's very difficult for us to get acceptance from outside because we don't have the smallest footprint as the races happen around the world," said the German.

"In general, Formula One I feel should do more... we should send a much stronger message. Everybody can do something, contribute a little bit. It's inevitable that change is coming and hopefully rather sooner than later."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2019, with the headline 'Hamilton reconciles his green habits with F1 jet-setting'. Print Edition | Subscribe