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Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel hailed as ‘incredible figureheads’ of change in motorsport by Aston Martin’s Jessica Hawkins


Four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel has been described as an “incredible role model” who helped the all-female W series become a leader in motorsport.

Aston Martin’s Vettel is one of the best-known names on the F1 grid, dominating the series with four consecutive titles at Red Bull between 2010 and 2013, before taking on Lewis Hamilton at Ferrari.

Vettel’s record as F1’s youngest driver may never be broken
Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel hailed as 'incredible figureheads' of change in motorsport by Aston Martin's Jessica Hawkins
He left Red Bull to join Ferrari and fight with Hamilton, but the respect still remained despite some tense moments
Getty Images – Getty

Vettel moved to Italy in 2015 hoping to replicate his hero Michael Schumacher but ultimately failed, finishing second to Hamilton’s imperious Mercedes in 2017 and 2018.

Vettel remains the sport’s youngest world champion with his 2010 title at the age of 23, and although he is now 34, he is still as relevant in the world of motorsport as ever.

Only two drivers in the sport’s long history have more wins than Vettel’s 91, and he has recently used his status as an F1 great to take a stand against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“For me, my own opinion is that I shouldn’t go, I won’t,” Vettel said of the Russian Grand Prix last week.

“I think it’s wrong to race in this country. I feel sorry for the people, innocent people who lose their lives, get killed for stupid reasons under very strange and crazy leadership.

F1 quickly followed up on his comments by scrapping the September race from the calendar, but it’s far from the first time Vettel has made his feelings known.


Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel hailed as 'incredible figureheads' of change in motorsport by Aston Martin's Jessica Hawkins
Vettel was punished in Hungary protesting their government’s anti-gay laws
Getty
Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel hailed as 'incredible figureheads' of change in motorsport by Aston Martin's Jessica Hawkins
And earned a reputation as a passionate environmentalist
Getty

At the 2021 Hungarian GP, ​​Vettel received a reprimand for wearing a rainbow t-shirt with the phrase “same love” with the host country holding a widely criticized referendum on LGBTQ+ rights.

He also stayed at the British GP a few weeks earlier, picking up litter left in the stands, while being a regular critic of F1’s perceived slow environmental progress.

Aston Martin ambassador and W-Series driver Jessica Hawkis spoke highly of her team-mate, telling talkSPORT: “He is, hand on heart, one of the most incredible people I have never met.

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel hailed as 'incredible figureheads' of change in motorsport by Aston Martin's Jessica Hawkins
Hawkins worked alongside Vettel with Aston

“He uses his brand to express how he feels and everything he does, he does it because he genuinely means it, he doesn’t do it for show, he doesn’t do it for anything other than to really believe in what he stands for.

“To have a role model like that, not just for me, but for everyone in the sport, it’s amazing and honestly I can’t express enough how amazing he is.”

The all-female W series is entering its third full season this year, with Hawkins also entering its third year in the competition.

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel hailed as 'incredible figureheads' of change in motorsport by Aston Martin's Jessica Hawkins
Hawkins thinks Vettel and Hamilton have played their part in the rise of the W Series

Her F1 colleague Vettel has regularly spoken out in support of women’s rights, most recently hosting a women-only go-kart race at the 2021 Saudi Arabian GP.

F1 raced in Saudi Arabia for the first time in December and was criticized for driving in a country condemned by Amnesty International for human rights abuses.

Women have only recently been allowed to drive in the country, with Vettel’s gesture being widely applauded.

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel hailed as 'incredible figureheads' of change in motorsport by Aston Martin's Jessica Hawkins
Vettel offered a karting opportunity to women who weren’t even allowed to drive a few years ago, and then wore a shirt signed by the participants
Getty

Much like Vettel, former rival turned respected friend Lewis Hamilton has also received praise for introducing an equality commission into the sport, earning praise from Hawkins.

She said: “Any top athlete who expresses himself the way he has is amazing and he is doing what he can while he is at his peak to turn things around.

“We need figureheads like that because those are the people in the public eye and if they’re ready to take that step and make that change, that’s what we need in the sport.

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel hailed as 'incredible figureheads' of change in motorsport by Aston Martin's Jessica Hawkins
Hamilton and Vettel have been fierce rivals, but often complement each other in their drive to progress
Getty

“Since my debut, when I first tried a kart, I could name two other names of women involved in motorsport or certainly those I raced with anyway.

“We’re seeing more women in the sport, not just drivers, but mechanics, engineers, strategists, marketing, and all of those people have a genuine interest in motorsport.

“I think it’s because we now have some figureheads and we have people speaking out and I think we’re changing the perception.

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel hailed as 'incredible figureheads' of change in motorsport by Aston Martin's Jessica Hawkins
W-series may end up producing F1’s next female driver
GETTY

“The perception is that motorsport is a man’s world and although I think it’s still predominantly male, the perception is changing, that’s where part of the problem is, that’s the perception and in Aston Martin, we are helping to drive this change.”

Hawkins’ W series premiered alongside F1 in 2021, and its rights have been picked up by Channel 4 to accompany their F1 highlights package.

The sport is now in full swing with two-time champions Jamie Chadwick earmarked for a future run in F1, and Hawkins had no doubts about the success of the series when asked what the second-biggest four-wheeled class was. .

“You could say it’s the W series,” she said. “Give it a couple years, if it ain’t W-series [now] then it will be then.

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