Wednesday 3 June 2015

Formula One and Alcohol by Kunal Shah, plus the latest Inside Line F1 podcast

The equation 'alcohol = celebration' was planted in my head by Formula 1. And no, it wasn't the alcohol sponsorship in the sport, but the post-race podium ceremony. If Formula 1 bans alcohol sponsorship, will this lead to an automatic ban on champagne celebrations on the podium? Raikkonen's eagerness to race to the podium will only drop further! (Yes, I know that Bahrain and Abu Dhabi already use 'rose water' as a substitute). (Read: Helmet Ban(ter))

Photo: Octane Photography
The alcohol ban should then extend to the team's hospitality areas and the Paddock Club - in which case, I can already tell you that the ban won't come into effect! Imagine telling a 70 year old Rolex wearing Formula 1 fan (Bernie's friends?) to shell out a few thousand dollars for 'five star' hospitality at the races but without alcohol! The funnier part is that Bernie would still believe that thousands will willingly pay those thousands! Sigh! (Read: Blame It On Bernie?)

In a world (Formula 1) where revenue sources are limited, I wonder why Formula 1 would even think of a blanket ban on alcohol sponsorship. Currently, this ban is exercised by the host country and its regulations and I believe this is where it should be left. (Read: A Strategy Of Errors)

Alcohol is a media restricted category (in a fair number of countries) which is also why brands spend heavily on sports and use the platform to reach out to their audiences. We all know how cash intensive our sport is, which is why it isn't strange to me that the three teams that rely on heavily on alcohol sponsorships are privateer teams. (Yes, this includes McLaren!)

'Drink and Drive' is possibly a bigger global problem than Formula 1 - one that cuts across racial, caste, creed, sex and language barriers. I would rather that the FIA, FOM and the powers involved use the global platform of our sport to help spread the message of safety. 'Make Roads Safe', 'Think Before You Drive' and 'Champions Drink Responsibly' are few of the global campaigns that already exist.

While the sport is in aggressive pursuit of 'road relevant' technologies, it won't cost much to remain 'socially relevant'.

And before I sign off, here's the latest episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast - 'Raikkonen Needs A New Challenge?' for your listening.

We love Kimi Raikkonen, we totally do! But it isn't he who got selected as the 'best driver' by the team bosses, it was Lewis Hamilton (unsurprising!). At GBP 100 million, that's some cost for a driver in this era of cost cutting. What is Mercedes really paying for though? And if FIA were to introduce 'driver telemetry' for the fans, we tell you how it could enhance a fan's viewing experience. Tune in to the latest episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast and hear Rishi Kapoor and Kunal Shah speak, debate, argue and laugh out loud on various topics around the sport of Formula 1. (Season 2015; Episode 19)

This article and podcast were originally published on Kunal's F1 Blog and have been reproduced with permission.

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