BAT back in F1 as Philip Morris defends advertising ahead of Australian GP
British American Tobacco, the tobacco giant that had its own Formula 1 motor racing team before selling to Honda in 2006, is returning to the sport under a multi-year global partnership with McLaren.
The partnership, announced today, will focus solely on BAT’s “potentially reduced risk products” with an emphasis on technology and innovation.
In a statement, the two companies said: “McLaren Applied Technologies will work with BAT on areas including battery technology and advanced materials. The two companies will share best practice, innovation know-how and mutual experience.”
BAT competed as British American Racing (BAR) from 1999 to the end of 2005 when Honda took over. It sold its shareholding following the introduction of European Union legislation banning tobacco advertising in member states, and the recommendation by the sport’s world governing body the FIA that all related sponsorship should cease after the 2006 season.
Meanwhile, rival tobacco company, and fellow F1 sponsor, Philip Morris has insisted that its 'Mission Winnow' sponsorship programme with the Ferrari team complies with advertising laws despite Australia's concerns over the matter.
The 'Mission Winnow' name and logo appeared on the team's cars at last year's Japanese Grand Prix.
Philip Morris is using the concept to highlight its "smoke-free alternatives" to cigarettes.
Ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne next month, Australia’s Department of Health and Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services have launched an investigation into Philip Morris' practices, concerned they contravene the country's ban on tobacco advertising.
However, Tommaso di Giovanni, international director of global communication for Philip Morris, told Motorsport.com: "The initiative and the symbols and logos used on the livery of the Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow and the website comply with the laws that apply to our activities in Australia and the State of Victoria. We are aware of the debate on Mission Winnow in Australia and we are working with the organisers of the local grand prix to understand the concerns of the authorities and give them an answer.
"Mission Winnow does not advertise or promote our company's products or product brands. Rather, it is designed to talk about our commitment to improving ourselves in everything we do. Mission Winnow is a window to the new Philip Morris International and our partners, to our commitment and the stimuli that drive us to improve and evolve. And to contribute to the progress of society."A year ago, Philip Morris extended its deal with Ferrari to 2021, noting that the new contract “will be exclusively focused on advancing the cause of a smoke-free world – a world in which all people who would otherwise continue smoking switch from the most harmful form of nicotine consumption – cigarettes – to scientifically substantiated less harmful alternatives that are smoke-free.”
The partnership dates back more than four decades and Philip Morris’ Marlboro cigarette brand has been the team’s main partner since 1997, albeit without branding on the cars because of the widespread ban on advertising of tobacco products.
The Marlboro logo has not appeared on the Ferrari cars in any Formula 1 race since 2007, although Ferrari maintains the use of red and white colours, matching the brand, in its livery and corporate branding.
In 2010, Ferrari had to remove a barcode design from its cars after claims that it represented subliminal advertising for Marlboro.