The Formula 1 season is well and truly underway and with every race that is televised, millions of people all around the world tune in to catch the excitement. An ongoing debate that continues to plague the world of motorsport however is whether or not alcohol advertising and sponsorship should be banned once and for all.
Many argue that the prominent slogans that adorn the impressive racing cars barely get noticed whereas others question how a sport that revolves around driving can be so closely be associated with drinking.
In fact, the head of Formula One’s governing body, FIA, has been called out for providing alcohol companies with the greatest level of exposure compared to any other global sport. Three F1 teams have high-profile relationships with major drinks companies including Williams (Martini), Force India (Smirnoff and Kingfisher) and McLaren (Johnnie Walker).
The Monte Carlo race draws in huge crowds every year and in 2014 the 500 million-strong audience was exposed to an alcohol brand on average, every five seconds. This is the equivalent of nearly 1,200 references to alcohol in just two hours, with the majority coming from track-side signage.
The Secretary General of Eurocare, Mariann Skar commented:
“The amount of alcohol-related exposure in F1 settings is extreme by anyone’s standards. There seems to be a lack of recognition within the F1 community about their responsibility when showing alcohol adverts every five seconds to an audience of 500 million viewers. We now urge the involved bodies in F1 to move away from alcohol sponsorship.”
Responding to the criticisms, French motorsport executive Jean Todt responded:
“I’m completely against drinking and driving but each country needs to make its own job. You cannot ban alcohol, it is not possible, but you can educate people not to drink and drive. So we are working very closely on that because we know it’s an essential topic to be addressed.”
Ironically, as well as defending the endorsement of alcohol advertising in Formula One, Todt is also the UN Special Envoy for Road Safety - a relationship which 108 road safety and transport organisations in 50 different countries have addressed to the UN as a conflict of interest.
Do you think that alcohol sponsorship in motorsport generates mixed messages about drink-driving and road safety? Should alcohol companies be banned from sponsoring Formula One or should people have the freedom to make their own decisions? Feel free to let us know your thoughts on our Facebook page.