Berliner TageBlatt - Vettel wears heart on his helmet over invasion of Ukraine

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Vettel wears heart on his helmet over invasion of Ukraine
Vettel wears heart on his helmet over invasion of Ukraine / Foto: © AFP

Vettel wears heart on his helmet over invasion of Ukraine

Four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel had a Ukraine flag emblazoned on his helmet in protest at Russia's invasion of Ukraine when he drove his Aston Martin in testing in Bahrain on Thursday.

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The 34-year-old German had spoken out forcefully a fortnight ago when Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion, declaring he would refuse to drive in the Russian Grand Prix.

The September 25 race was quickly cancelled and a week later Formula One terminated their contract declaring there would be no further race in Russia.

Vettel's helmet bore not only the Ukrainian flag but also a dove -- the symbol of peace -- with the words "Peace and Love", "No war" and the words to John Lennon's legendary song "Imagine".

Vettel had also joined 17 of his rival drivers -- the exceptions being seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton and Haas's Kevin Magnussen, who has replaced the sacked Russian driver Nikita Mazepin -- to pose behind a Ukrainian flag and a banner bearing the phrase "No war".

Haas terminated both Mazepin's contract and that of Russian title sponsor Uralkali -- the company of which Mazepin's father Dmitry is an executive director -- last Saturday.

Hamilton, who for two years now has taken the knee prior to races in an anti-racism protest, had posted an Instagram message of support for the "courageous Ukrainian people" and called for donors to support British NGOs.

The taking the knee -- an act which was not copied by all the drivers, some of whom preferred to stand and wear T-shirts with anti-racist slogans -- has been scrapped for this season.

Testing in Bahrain takes place from Thursday to Saturday on the circuit where the campaign for real kicks off on Sunday week. It follows a first testing session in Barcelona last month.

K.Thomson--BTB