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.”

Kyle Larson wins High Limit Sprint race at Tri-City Speedway ahead of Rico Abreu

Larson High Limit Tri-City
High Limit Sprint Car Series

A late race caution set up a 14-lap shootout at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Illinois with Kyle Larson winning his second consecutive High Limit Sprint Car Series race over Rico Abreu.

Starting eight on the grid after a disappointing pole dash, Larson missed several major incidents as he worked his way to the front. On Lap 1 of 35, a five-car accident claimed Tyler Courtney and Michael “Buddy” Kofoid, who both took a tumble and before collecting three other cars. Once that red flag was lifted, it didn’t take long for drivers to get tangled again as the leader Danny Dietrich experienced engine trouble on Lap 8. When he slowed rapidly, second-place Brent Marks collided with his back tire, ending the day for both.

Larson moved up to fourth with this incident.

Another red flag on Lap 21 for a flip involving Parker Price-Miller set up the dash for the win.

“My car felt really good and then we got that red,” Larson said from victory lane. “I was kind of running through the crumbs before that in 3 and 4; I could tell the top was getting really sketchy. Parker was making mistakes up there.

“When the red came out, I could see there was a clean lane of grip – not just marbles. It’s hard to see when you’re at speed. I figured Rico was going to run the top and he did. I got to his inside a couple of times and I was like ‘please don’t go to the bottom,’ and I threw a slider on him. Then he went to the bottom and I thought I was screwed until he spun his tires really bad off the corner and I was able to hit the top okay and get another run and slide him. I got good grip off the cushion.”

The victory makes Larson the first repeat winner in the series’ five-race history. He beat Justin Sanders earlier this month at Wayne County Speedway in Orrville, Ohio.

With 10 laps remaining, Larson caught and pressured Abreu. The two threw a series of sliders at one another until Abreu bobbled on the cushion and lost momentum.

“Anytime you race Rico and he’s on the wall like that, you have to get aggressive,” Larson said. “He’s pushing so hard that just to stay in the striking zone if he makes a mistake, you have to push hard too.”

For Abreu, it was his second near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps.

“I felt like I made a lot of mistakes at the end,” Abreu said. “It’s just hard to judge race pace. You’ve got Kyle behind you and [Anthony] Macri and these guys that have had speed all year long. I was racing as hard as I could and the mistake factor is more and more critical.”

Cory Eliason earned his career-best High Limit finish of third after starting deep in the field in 13th.

Macri lost one position during the race to finish fourth with Sam Hafertepe, Jr. rounding out the top five.

Visiting from the NASCAR Cup series, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 19th in the 25-car field after advancing from the B-Main.

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway