The Suzuka Circuit was a hive of activity on Thursday as the Formula One four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel got to work on his latest environmental project ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend.
Vettel, who retired from F1 at the end of last season, helped set up ‘insect hotels’ just behind turn two of the track as a way of trying to sustain insect populations in the area and raise awareness about the importance of biodiversity.
The campaign, named “Buzzin’ Corner,” also involved current F1 drivers customizing the hotels while the kerb at turn two was painted yellow and black.
“I want, with this project, to create awareness about the importance and the subject of biodiversity,” Vettel told the F1 website. “It’s very exciting and a lot of work and passion went into the project.
“Standing up for biodiversity, which is not just insects, it is all types of animal … we have to celebrate variety not just in human beings, but nature, and we have to protect it. That’s really close to my heart and I want to stress this and raise awareness.”
The bee-themed color scheme appears on the hotels themselves as well, with the 36-year-old Vettel collaborating with a local carpenter to construct the insect homes.
“[The bee is] the perfect ambassador for us around this project and idea to highlight the importance of biodiversity, because it stands not just for the bee but for all the other insects,” said the four-time world champion. “So we see the bee as our ambassador. She will help us stress this very important message.”
In 2021, Vettel created an F1 car-shaped bee hotel at the Red Bull Ring in Austria along with local schoolchildren and helped to remove litter from the stands at Silverstone after the British Grand Prix.
He participated in the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK in July this year, driving a sustainably fueled McLaren MP4/7 and Williams FW14B. He also took his title-winning Red Bull RB7 machine around the famous Nordschleife at the Nürburgring, with the car running on carbon-neutral fuel.
Vettel invited the paddock down to the corner to observe and decorate the hotel constructions, with the drivers and team principals happily obliging.
Each team was presented with the opportunity to add their own spin on the hotels via a paintbrush and some drivers also helped to fill out the structures by adding wooden blocks and sticks to them.
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, friend and former fierce rival of Vettel, praised the German for leading the charge for environmentalism within F1.
“To be honest, in the history of the sport, I don’t know any other driver who’s ever been so outspoken and shown real compassion for the world outside of this little world that we’re living in,” said Hamilton. “It’s really great that he’s utilizing his platform.”
“We all need to come together in this world to have a positive impact; to spread love, to spread compassion, to raise awareness for a lot of the problems – and there’s obviously millions of problems that we need to address – but biodiversity is for sure.”