Lewis Hamilton has defended comments he made regarding environmental issues after being accused of hypocrisy.
The Mercedes man took to social media to speak out on a number of issues, including climate change, veganism, animal cruelty and deforestation, but came under fire given his career and the industry that he works in.
Speaking ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix, the five-time world champion said: "It's not easy as we're travelling the world and our carbon footprint is higher than the average homeowner who lives in one city. That doesn't mean you should be afraid to speak out for positive change.
“In terms of the changing of the things I’m doing in my life, I’m trying to make sure that by the end of the year I’m carbon neutral. I don’t allow anyone in my office, but also within my household, to buy any plastics. I want everything recyclable, down to deodorant, down to toothbrush, all these kind of things. I’m trying to make as much change as I can in my personal space. I sold my plane over a year ago. I fly a lot less now. I’m trying to fly less through the year.
“It’s not a quick fix, it’s not something you do over a short period of time. I feel positive I’m making those changes and I’m encouraging people around me also.
“I think it’s important to be able to be open and not hold things in. I’m always very open and transparent with my feelings, whether people like it or not.
“I still love racing and I want to continue. If you look at our sport, it’s shifted, using a third less fuel now. There is more I think F1 can do and they are putting plans together but you have to push all the industries, you have to push F1 to do more.”
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One of the people to criticise Hamilton was his former teammate and rival Fernando Alonso. Speaking on Spanish radio, he said: "I would never release a message like Lewis. You can't send out a message one day and the next day do the opposite. We all know the lifestyle that Lewis has, and that Formula 1 drivers take 200 planes a year. You can't then say: 'Don't eat meat.”
Hamilton did find an ally, however, in the form of Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel. The German said: “You would be ignorant if you wouldn’t look at it. As Lewis said, it’s difficult for us to get acceptance from the outside because we don’t have the smallest footprint.
“The races happen around the world, we have to travel so it’s part of our jobs. But in general, F1 should do more. It’s a worldwide operating platform, and I think we should send a much stronger message.
In his original post, Hamilton said: “I’m sad to see so many people, even close friends ignore what is happening daily. Education is key and we’re taught that eating animal products was good for us but we’ve been lied to for 100s of years.
I’m trying to make sure that by the end of the year I’m carbon neutral.
“I urge you, to do some research, find the compassion I know you have within you to recognise what you are contributing to in terms of what you eat which keeps the meat and dairy industry flourishing and therefore deforestation, animal cruelty, our seas and climate decaying on a daily basis.
“Go Vegan, it is the only way to truly save our planet today. It can be done so quickly, all you have to do is put your mind to it.”
Hamilton has been dominant this season on the track. On course for a third consecutive drivers’ championship, the 34-year-old has won nine races so far in 2019. Teammate Valeri Bottas, his closest competitor has three, with Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen (two each) and Vettel (one) just behind.
Hamilton will win his sixth championship if he wins the next race in Mexico City, assuming Bottas finishes fifth or lower. Another world title would move him to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record of seven.
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