F1 faces pressure over alcohol sponsorship

Formula One has come under fire from the European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare) over the level of alcohol advertising in the motor-racing championship.

In an open letter to Jean Todt, president of motorsport’s global governing body the FIA, Eurocare secretary general Mariann Skar outlined her concerns about the “heavy marketing” of alcohol in F1. Skar stated that the association between drinking and driving should clearly be seen as a troubling one.

Formula One has experienced a bumper year in alcohol sponsorship with many teams having agreed new deals. British team Williams signed a deal with Italian spirits brand Martini, vodka brand Smirnoff struck a partnership with

Force India, while Johnnie Walker built on its partnership with McLaren by agreeing to become the official whisky of F1.

In the letter, Skar said she was “deeply concerned” about the levels of alcohol marketing in F1 and called on the FIA to make an “urgent change.” Skar added: “Allowing alcohol sponsorship in Formula One seems to contradict many official guidelines for the marketing of alcohol. It runs against the EU Directive (2010/13/EU), which states that marketing for the consumption of alcohol should not be linked to driving.”

The letter comes at a time when the European Union is considering banning the advertisement of drinks in sport, although a decision is yet to be made on such regulations. The letter continued: “When considering the continued destructive prevalence of drink-driving, permitting the mixed messages presented in alcohol sponsorship of Formula One seems ever more inappropriate given the total viewing audience of 500 million.

“The sport would not collapse overnight as a result and would constitute a sincere effort to severe the link between drinking and driving. Furthermore, a ban on alcohol sponsorship in Formula One is not a radical departure from previous policy, and rather is a reform in sync with current national efforts to reduce alcohol-related harm. The European Alcohol Policy Alliance is requesting an end to alcohol sponsorship in Formula One and expects rapid action from your side.”