Last weekend in Montreal it was announced that Heineken had become F1’s official beer partner, a deal that would see significant advertising at most tracks while the Dutch brewer would also become the title sponsor of three races per season.
Eurocare, the European Alcohol Policy Alliance, has called for the deal, believed to be worth $250 million, to be stopped while also putting a halt to all alcohol sponsorship in the sport.
“F1 should ask themselves if they want to be a motorsport or an alcohol brand event,” said Eurocare general secretary Mariann Skar in a statement that estimated the Heineken deal to be worth $150 million to F1 over five years.
“If both the sport and the drinks producers want to be seen as responsible industries, they should stop this deal and move away from alcohol sponsorship in F1.”
— F1 on NBC Sports (@F1onNBCSports) June 10, 2016
In an open letter to Jean Todt, Skar stated that during last year’s Monaco Grand Prix there were on average 11 references per minute to alcohol.
The letter read: “Alcohol marketing has a powerful effect on society, in particular on young people. As you very well know, F1 is a sport heavily sponsored by alcohol producers, even before this new deal.
“A report on alcohol brand exposure during the F1 Monaco Grand Prix last year showed that there were on average 11 references to alcohol brands per minute – averaging one every five seconds. The promotion of alcohol alongside iconic sporting events reinforces and exaggerates pro-alcohol social norms.
“The Monaco Grand Prix has a worldwide audience of around 500 million people, and with the new deal in addition to the previous sponsorship agreement, F1 is close to becoming more an event for granting the global exposure of alcohol brands than a sporting event.”
As such Eurocare as called on the FIA President to take action.
“We would like to remind you that drink driving is one of the key killers on the road. It is, therefore, worrying that F1 is now bringing the link between alcohol brands and motorsport even closer together,” the letter continued.
We would like to request that you take this issue seriously and consider moving away from these sponsorship agreements, as you did with tobacco sponsorship. FIA is not without responsibilities, being the governing body of F1 and also being one of the shareholders in the sport.”