The Formula One driver put in a sensational qualifying lap at Silverstone yesterday to secure pole position for the first-ever F1 Sprint this afternoon. The Mercedes driver beat title rival Max Verstappen’s Red Bull by 0.075 seconds to secure the top spot for the new 17-lap race introduced this weekend. The seven-time world champion has used his platform to lead the Black Lives Matter fight over the last year – wearing T-shirts, taking the knee and publicly calling out other drivers.
But he came under fire when he tried to campaign against climate change.
In a series of Instagram posts, Sir Lewis said he felt like “giving up on everything” over his concerns for the environment.
He called on his followers to “research” and “recognise” how their diets keep “the meat and dairy industry flourishing and therefore deforestation, animal cruelty, our seas and climate decaying on a daily basis”.
Sir Lewis added that going vegan “can be done so quickly, all you have to do is put your mind to it”.
His passionate views sparked mass criticism online, but political commentator Brendan O’Neill went one step further writing a column in the Spectator about “woke celebs” and their “unbearable” views.
He said Sir Lewis’ view that we all turn vegan to save the planet “takes the biscuit”.
Mr O’Neill explained: “This is a man who zooms around a track in gas-guzzling speed-machines for a living and he wants the rest of us to eke out an existence on kale and nuts in order to shrink humanity’s carbon footprint?
“The gall is off the charts.
“I mean, seriously. Formula One is known for its insane wealth and decadence and the copious amounts of fuel it burns.
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“As a powerful voice in my industry, I have a responsibility to effect change from within Formula 1 as well as in all the other activities in which I am involved.
“I’ve done this with Tommy Hilfiger and with Police, just recently I invested in Neat Burger vegan fast-food and I’m working with Mercedes and Daimler on a series of car projects.”
And others have come out to support him since, with an expert in the car industry stating it would be an “understatement” to call the criticism harsh.
Writing for autoevolution, Elena Gorgan stated: “The post didn’t go as well as he had probably hoped.
“Even though he explained he’d personally gone to great lengths to ensure his carbon footprint had been minimised, including with his F1 work and his choice for a personal vehicle, criticism still came his way.
“For starters, he’s sold off his private jet and he’s no longer driving any of the supercars in his collection.
“These include a Pagani Zonda 760, a McLaren P1, a 1966 Shelby Cobra 427, a Ford Shelby Mustang GT500, a Ferrari LaFerrari and a 599 Aperta, with Sir Lewis saying that, these days, he only drives the electric SUV EQC. And the EQS, of course.
“Other changes included switching to a vegan diet and making sure he’s picked up at the airport in electric cars, whenever possible.
“He made sure to carbon offset his F1 work all the way to 2007, whereas Formula One is working towards holding only fully-sustainable events by 2025.”
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