He’s also backed campaigns for LBGT rights, and expressed his concerns about human rights in some of the Middle Eastern countries that the sport visits, while acknowledging that his own Aston Martin team is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Aramco.
Vettel has been particularly vocal about climate change and pollution. In Silverstone last year he made a point by joining in litter clearing activities after the race, while at a high profile Miami GP launch event on Wednesday he appeared in a t-shirt reminding locals that their city is predicted to be underwater by 2060. The message is repeated on his helmet this weekend, complete with snorkel logo.
He’s also spoken out on the subject of Ukraine, carrying the country’s blue and yellow colours on his helmet for the early races of the season.
Even as a wide-eyed rookie back in 2007 Vettel had something different about him – his interests spanned The Beatles and Monty Python rather than hip-hop or gaming you might have associated with a 20-year-old – and at 34 and in his 16th consecutive season in the sport he’s developed into a well-rounded family man who has managed to keep his life in balance.
How he will fare in the lion’s den that is Question Time, where the audience is usually populated with people of extreme views – and in East London’s Hackney there could be a few folk with a point to make – remains to be seen.
It’s easy to imagine that someone might try to trip him up with lines like, “What can a mega rich sportsman know about real life?”, or “Isn’t your sport about driving around in circles and wasting petrol?”
He might not be fully up speed with the details of UK domestic politics, but don’t underestimate Vettel. He is super-smart and can think on his feet, and he’s spent the last 16 years at FIA press conferences sitting in a panel of four or five drivers fielding questions of all kinds from the F1 media.
He’s also had interactions with politicians and activists, including Germany’s equivalent of Greta Thunberg, so he’s used to debate on big picture subjects.
He can at least tell any cynics that he gave up on private jets several years ago, and uses public transport when he can. In his last year at Ferrari he even sent his own team into a panic by opting to use a train on the Monza weekend.
He admits he doesn’t know much about Question Time or what he’s likely to face, but he’s up for the challenge.
“I have opinions, but I’m not saying they’re always right or wrong,” he told Motor Sport in Miami on Friday. “So yeah, if you ask me, I’ll tell you my opinion. But I think it will be interesting.
“I’m looking forward because it’s completely different: different people, different topics. So let’s see how much I have to say or not, how much I know about the topic or not. But happy to learn.”
So why does he feel so passionate about so many subjects, such as the climate change one he’s backing in Miami?
“The planet is changing. Are we stuck and do we get rid of ourselves?”
“I think it’s simple,” he said. “There’s a couple of topics that we can’t hide from. The fact that this place is going to be under water in 50 years. What else do you need to say?
“I think it’s shocking, alarming, everything. So the planet is changing. And the question is, do we manage to adapt? Do we manage to switch to the next season? Or are we stuck and get rid of ourselves? That’s the big challenge.”
Earlier this year he spoke with great thought and clarity about Ukraine when asked what the sport could do to help.
“Well, there’s always things we can do,” he noted. “I mean, it is absolutely horrible to see what’s going on. Every time we think it can’t be more of a shock, it’s more of a shock, and innocent people getting killed, women and children getting killed. It’s horrible.
“So what we can do? I think there’s a lot of people, that’s the positive, that are very willing to help, a lot of volunteers in the neighbouring countries, but also in other countries across Europe, willing to help, willing to give shelter.