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Todt: No problem with alcohol sponsorship in Formula 1

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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.”

Bill Elliott joins Tony Stewart/Ray Evernham SRX series for 2021

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NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott became the eighth driver to join the Superstar Racing Experience, the short-track series being started by Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart.

The two-time Daytona 500 winner and 1988 NASCAR Cup Series champion was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015 and was voted NASCAR’s most popular driver 16 times (his son, Chase, has received the honor the past two years). Elliott also closed his full-time Cup career driving for Evernham’s Dodge team from 2001-03, winning the 2002 Brickyard 400.

“I am excited to reunite with Ray Evernham and some of the great legends of our sport,” Elliott, who joins Stewart and Bobby Labonte as NASCAR Hall of Famers in the SRX, said in a release. “I look forward to racing at some of the most historic American racing destinations and putting on an awesome show for the fans. We have a special driver field and it will be fun competing with some of the greatest drivers of all time.”

The series, which is expecting to have a dozen drivers, also has Tony Stewart, Helio Castroneves, Bobby Labonte, Paul Tracy, Tony Kanaan, Willy T. Ribbs and Mark Webber in its lineup.

SRX was co-founded by NASCAR Hall of Famers Stewart and Evernham and was unveiled July 13.

Several drivers have expressed interest in the new circuit, which is modeled on the International Race of Champions (IROC) series that matched drivers from various auto racing disciplines in equally prepared cars for an annual four-race series for 30 years.

With the addition of Bill Elliott, Superstar Racing Experience has yet to reveal a schedule or tracks, but it’s expected that Stewart’s Eldora Speedway will be on the slate.