In a move strangely at odds with its avowed commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility, Dutch banking and insurance group ING yesterday signed a three-year sponsorship deal with the Renault Formula 1 team.

ING, which also sponsors the more environmentally-friendly New York and Amsterdam marathons, apparently sees little difference in the two sports. Both are about teamwork and winning and the audiences for both Formula 1 and marathons comprise 45% women. And like marathons, Formula 1 races are accessible for everyone, as long as they have a television, that is, says ING vice-chairman Cees Maas in today’s Volkskrant. Maas was also keen to point out that Renault has done a lot for the environment, like reducing the pollutants in the exhaust fumes from the 2.5 million vehicles the company produced last year. Renault team boss Flavio Briatore even went so far as to assert Formula 1 racing is now less dangerous than fishing. He forgot to add that it’s just about as boring. And nobody who’s seen or read about the antics of one Michael Schumacher could claim that modern Formula 1 is about sportsmanship and fairness. At least Renault must be laughing all the way to its own bank. ING is definitely not the one that got away.

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