Formula One racing team Ferrari have agreed to race next week’s Australian Grand Prix without branding for Mission Winnow, a campaign launched by US tobacco company Philip Morris International.
The Italian outfit have also removed Mission Winnow from their official team name in an updated entry list published by the International Automobile Federation (FIA), and will now simply go by their traditional title, Scuderia Ferrari.
The decision follows pressure from the Australian Department of Health, which raised concerns around whether the branding directly contradicts Formula One’s rules prohibiting the promotion of tobacco-based products .
Speaking to Italian media ahead of the championship’s curtain-raiser in Melbourne, Ferrari’s chief executive Louis Camilleri confirmed the decision to remove the branding for the race, stating that Philip Morris “did not have time to find a solution”.
He continued: “Winnow is not a brand, however. It has nothing to do with tobacco but is about the transition from cigarettes to electronic (products). In Australia, we will still have a surprise on the car for the fans.”
According to Philip Morris – a long-term partner of Ferrari – Mission Winnow promotes its research into developing ‘less harmful alternatives to cigarettes’, and denies that the initiative is intended to promote tobacco products.
The campaign, which first appeared on the side of Ferrari’s race car race car during last season’s Japanese Grand Prix, remains Ferrari’s title partner.
Last month, race rival McLaren partnered with tobacco producer British American Tobacco, whose campaign ‘A Better Tomorrow’ appears on their new car for the 2019 season.
McLaren told SportsPro that it will confirm its branding in due course.