TURIN, Italy – FIA president Jean Todt says that he has no problem with alcohol brands advertising in Formula 1 amid concerns about its growth in the sport.
Over the Canadian Grand Prix weekend earlier this month, F1 announced a new global partnership with Dutch beer brand Heineken that includes trackside advertising and title sponsorship for races in the future.
The partnership was announced along with the message: “If you drive, never drink” to highlight the dangers of drink-driving.
In response to the deal, the European Alcohol Policy Alliance wrote a letter to Todt asking for him to clamp down on alcohol branding as F1 did with tobacco sponsorship in the late 2000s.
When asked if he felt frustrated by the commercial rights holder attracting alcohol brands to enter F1, Todt said: “I would not talk about frustration. My frustration is maybe in a different way.
“I feel that alcohol companies have a civil obligation that they don’t do properly. They have a responsibility to inform better about the risk of drinking and driving.
“We must be realistic. Is anybody in a position to ban the sale of alcohol? No. We cannot. Those people, those alcohol producers have very strong social responsibility.”
Todt said that he has no problem with alcohol sponsorship in F1 given its involvement in other sporting events such as the UEFA Champions League and the Rugby World Cup.
“To be very honest, I don’t have a problem if they do advertise,” Todt said.
“They advertise not only in motor racing. They advertise in soccer, UEFA, rugby – a lot of alcohol companies are advertising.
“But for me, they have a social obligation which they need to assess better to participate to discourage people to drive if they drink.”
Todt also commented that he felt comfortable with the current EU Commission investigation into F1’s governance and payment distribution, as called for by Sauber and Force India on grounds of competition.
“I’m very comfortable, it can only be good for the governing body,” Todt said.”
“The governing body has not [got] enough power, influence to have the final say on the rules. It’s the way it is. It’s simple. It has more then when I was elected.”