F1 Winter Break
Exploiting a loophole? McLaren announces partnership with British American Tobacco
Posted By: Editor   |  11 Feb 2019   |  11:46 am GMT  |  68 comments

British American Tobacco will once again be sponsoring a Formula One team, having agreed a “global partnership” with McLaren in a deal that the Woking team say will be focusing on BAT’s “reduced risk products”.

With echoes of Ferrari’s renewed parternship with Philip Morris and their ‘Mission Winnow’ initiative, McLaren’s deal with BAT is claimed to be centred on BAT’s “transforming agenda” and their aim to “deliver the world’s tobacco and nicotine consumers a better tomorrow”.

BAT’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kingsley Wheaton, said that the deal will “drive greater resonance” towards their electronic cigarette products, such as Vype and Vuse.

“We’re extremely proud and excited about this new partnership, further enabling us to accelerate the pace at which we innovate and transform ourselves.

“ It gives us a truly global platform with which to drive greater resonance of our potentially reduced risk products, including our Vype, Vuse and glo brands.

“Ultimately, innovation and technology will support us in creating a better tomorrow’ for our consumers worldwide.”

This will be the first time since 2006 that BAT will have a presence in Formula One; they joined the Formula One grid for the 1999 season with British American Racing but, like other tobacco companies, they found it harder to advertise their products, and left the sport altogether before the 2007 season.

The deal follows on from Ferrari’s new partnership with Mission Winnow, a brand formed by Philip Morris International, who had previously advertised tobacco products at Ferrari.

However, this agreement has drawn attention in Australia, with authorities there investigating the legality of the deal. More specifically, they will be deciding if the Mission Winnow logo is too close to the Marlboro logo, previously used on Ferrari’s Formula One cars.

Philip Morris International Director of Global Communication Tommaso di Giovanni has told Motorsport.com: “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.”

By: Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

sooner or later, we will have a weed sponsor.


All this tobacco bashing. Redbull sell sugar drinks. There’s a hospital for the rich who get cancer. As soon as you go in the door they stop all glucose in your diet. Cancer can’t or finds it very difficult to grow in a non sugar environment.

Right, where’s my smokes and bottle of Coke?


Hate to say it, but the independent teams like Mclaren, Jordan and Williams thrived with tobacco money. It could be the one way to even the playing field of financing the race teams. Lots of comments of disappointed fans, but what is the alternative? The money from sponsors is minimal compared to just 20 years ago. I am sure that the other large tobacco makers will all be involved again in the next few years using loopholes, and nobody will be complaining about the even playing field that it will create with competitive racing.


Say what you want,about whether it’s good or bad for the sport, but boy oh boy didn’t the tobacco companies produce some beautiful liveries in the past.


Difficult to police the tobacco ban isn’t it? Ferrari have flouted it since it was brought in, and now McLaren have found a way to sneak some ciggie dough under the radar!

I guess you just have to say that if the branding on the car isn’t a cigarette brand, then it’s ok, not much else the FIA can do really….


Don’t care. Just make McLaren great again!!!

søren christensen

Much of the sponsoring in motorsport has something to do with products, which used excessively are unhealthy. Now the tobacconists seem to have found a lucrative loophole to still be involved with their crap advertising, to advocate for a healthier life …. I call this hypocrisy on the highest level (F1)…

Until now, not many have opposed to Red Bull (and their colleagues). But, I say, these drinks are just as unhealthy as tobacco. And many younger people develop addiction towards Red Bull (earlier it used to be banned in several Countries – but when the money counts…) If “Rich” will ever harm anybody remains an open question – for obvious reasons….


The drug dealers (tobacco corporations) continue to find sneaky ways around the advertising laws to “contribute to the progress of society”.

Getting into bed with drug dealers devalues the McLaren and Ferrari brands.


Simon. “drug dealers”. A bit extreme don’t you think?


Unfortunately it also pays the bills. The very big bills. Until cost are reduced, the teams will take money from almost anybody.


Simon, alcohol is also a drug, are the booze companies ‘drug dealers’ as well?


I wonder how much damage McLaren and Ferrari are doing to their brands by chasing the tobacco dollars?

I don’t know any other product that hurts the lives of so many. Three remote members of my family died in the last five years because of their addiction to smoking, all in their early 60s, all while newly or recently retired. Their choice of course, but what an utter waste.

McLaren, I’ve lost respect for your team now. Ferrari, the sponsorship wasn’t overt, but this Winnow rubbish is as bad, and now the Australians have pointed it out I can’t unsee the likeness to the Malboro logo.

I don’t want my 6 year old son to get even the faintest hint of tobacco sponsorship while watching F1. Associating glamour, speed, success with tobacco? No thanks.

Sooner these products are taxed or legislated out of existence the better. There are other ways to harm yourself available of course.



I think you’ll find the tobacco is chasing F1, not the other way around, because F1 won’t say no to the money. Phillip Morris have sponsored Ferrari for over 30 years.

As you say, it’s a choice, but my cousin is currently undergoing treatment for lung cancer & he’s never smoked a cigarette in his life. Go figure.

Our lunatic Australian suits will pass judgement with barely a sniff of any issue, usually to the detriment of the general populous, so I wouldn’t read a lot into that.

If your 6 y.o. gets the wrong idea about anything, perhaps double check your parenting skills, because you can’t find a 25 pack of Mission Winnow.

It would take a very brave or stupid Government to legislate against truck loads of cash, but the Australian Government legislated bi annual tax increases on tobacco in 2013. . . . . . & they’re not brave.


Doesn’t matter who chases who. It’s a way to advertise legal cancer.

Lung cancer is not only caused by smoking, but it’s by a long way the leading cause of lung cancer.

If Australia ban PMI how can that be bad for the general populous?

My parenting skills are fine thanks. I have a well balanced, very happy, and healthy son who has just started kart racing, and he loves to watch motorsport. Subliminal advertising is very powerful with youngsters, so PMI and BAT subliminal branding isn’t welcome to me, and it’s not possible to know all that goes on in a 6 year olds head – mostly dragons and snakes at the moment.

All the defenders of tobacco advertising only trot out the “personal choice” mantra. Yes it is, so no need for advertising, banning adverts won’t prevent you buying. Banning adverts will reduce smoking to an extent. How can you argue against reducing smoking is good for people?


Reflecting in many ways the comments from readers posted below: Don’cha just love the “P-C” world with “gub-ment” and wannabe organizations trying to rule personal choice and supposedly protect people from themselves in all manner of ways ?

Guess it’s not surprising, tho, because “parenting” has disappeared in favor of the “whatever we want to do” generations of late, eh?


They have already succeeded with everyone here actively talking about them and other reading the comments.


Banning any type of advertising is immature and worthless. Every person is responsible enough to decide if they want to harm their body or not. Those that can be lured into doing themselves harm are weak and just using this as an excuse.


So 6 year olds have weak minds? Of course they do, they’re developing. What an absolute load of tripe. They are a sponge taking up information, sometimes talking with adults about it, sometimes making up their own mind. Of course as a parent I do warn my son against dangers, talk about the whys, but I can’t control (and don’t want to) everything he sees and hears, so remove unecessary exposure to tobacco – I’ve seen no reasoned arguement to allow tobacco advertising.

What harm does banning advertising tobacco do? You can still buy tobacco regardless if advertising is banned. You can still smoke relatively freely, albeit not anywhere as before.

I really love the fact that my clothes and hair don’t stink anymore since the public smoking ban. I love the fact I don’t have second hand smoke in my lungs, and that my son is not exposed to it. Nobody’s stopping you smoking, so what’s the issue?


I imagine it’s only a matter of time before e-cigarette advertising is banned too – a lot of their success so far is thanks to loopholes and old tobacco rules that don’t quite apply to them. It’s likely less harmful, but still addictive, and not any better to be advertised to F1’s young target audience.

I still don’t know what to make of the “Mission Winnow” thing. As they say, it doesn’t advertise any particular products, but I really don’t know what it is supposed to advertise. The website has some fluff about “better ways of doing things” and “improving and evolving” (actual quotes), but no actual content. I suppose the advertising worked – it did make me look up the name and go to their website. But it hasn’t sold me on their products, and if anything, I trust their brand even *less* now – throwing all this money at advertising and buzzword-filled websites to make them look better, but not producing any evidence that they’re anything more than a tobacco company.

I’m not sure whether this new BAT partnership will come in the form of e-cigarette advertising, some vague advertising about a “transforming agenda”, or as another commenter said, just a way to get them a booth in the paddock. It certainly sounds like a loophole, but raises some interesting questions on how these things are policed. With shops in the UK banning sales of energy drinks to kids, I wonder how safe Red Bull is from F1 advertising rules…


E-cigarette advertisements should indeed be banned from F1. Instead, allow them in Formula-E! How appropriate, two bad ideas coming together.


Doesn’t this long version look like a mocked up artsy cigarette?
You can also see one or two Marlboro ‘flags’, the two pointed shape, if you look at it sideways… It’s all subliminar advertising as far as I’m concerned. It’s kinda like the barcode they once used, but with more marketing BS


It’s amazing what tobacco money can pay for. They have money to burn, and a marketing department that has an endless budget.


Yep it does . Great spot Stefano Tincani .
Rather disgusting that the Cancer Stick Companies are heading back into sport via a loophole.


“It is designed to talk about our commitment to improving ourselves in everything we do, our commitment and the stimuli that drive us to improve and evolve, and to contribute to the progress of society.”

That is some very impressive bull*******.


Haha. What about “creating a better tomorrow!”


I have never understood why ppl still nowadays demonize tobacco corporations.
Every smoker nowadays knows tobacco is harmful yet they are still using them at their own will. The tobacco corporations are not forcing anyone to use their products.

If you want to harm yourself that is your own choice and no one else’s! Excessive big brother guardianship should be stopped.


1. Adults in the west are pretty educated about these things, but children aren’t, especially in developing countries (which is where tobacco companies are focussing their efforts),

2. It’s not just themselves they’re harming, smoking has significant negative externalities in terms of the increasing costs of healthcare to society that have an impact on everyone.


Andrew – fair points, but ignoring the underlying issues:

1. Its the regulation in those developing countries that permits the tobacco co’s to do what they do. How hard would it be to impose the same measures as the developed world? But that would reduce government tax revenues… hence the lax regulation.

2. Again this is a policy issue. The tax on cigarettes needs to be directly linked to the cost of the externalities, and revenues allocated to those mitigating those negative externalities.

To point the finger of blame only on the cigarette companies is somewhat simplistic.


It’s about not advertising tobacco as glamorous to the younger generation. I don’t want my 6 year old son associating tobacco with glamour.


Said by a smoker, while having to stand out in the rain for a smoke as it’s banned in the pub they are at.!


I completely agree. There are more obesity and diabetes related deaths in the UK than smoking related and yet they are still allowed to have their own packaging etc unlike the tobacco companies.

Smoking doesn’t really bother me, I’d rather be sat near a pretty lady smoking than some fat sweaty mess shoving cake down their necks.


Just because obesity is a major health issue it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t look at tobacco. Jeez, no one is stopped from smoking, so what harm banning advertising? Zero credible arguments on an advertising ban.

How about the defenders of these death dealing organisations declare whether they smoke or not in their posts?


I absolutely don’t think we should be encouraging kids to smoke, that’s fair enough. For the record, I did smoke when I was at university but have stopped for a good while now.

I do however think their is zero consistency on this.

We have Heineken as a major sponsor in F1 while the tobacco companies are pushed against the wall. Chandon, Johnnie Walker, drivers drinking Champagne on the podium, while tobacco became synonym of sin.

Meanwhile, addictive energy drinks suffer no constraints. We just replaced cigarettes with energy drinks, and in the end they’re the same type of products with huge money behind. When more people die from caffeine overdose and diabetes, maybe society will decide to do something about that.

‘death dealing organisations’… Really we can throw them all in together can’t we, Johnie Walker, Coca Cola etc. What’s the difference?


Can’t wait to see Lando Norris vaping on the grid for a “better tomorrow”.

Wonder which will produce more smoke this year, the car or the sponsors?


Are both sides of car the same livery?



1. Loopholes are the essence of both businesses.
You can’t ask a lion to start eating cabbage and believe he’ll do so.

2. When F1 was a dangerous adventure it was matching the danger with smoking, so there was some kind of correlation.

3. Remove the halos and rebuild some of the tracks to how the layouts once were etc. I won’t even mention V*’s. Then they have a case, in this kind of special logic

Last just a fun way of putting it, citing “…transforming agenda” and their aim to “deliver the world’s tobacco and nicotine consumers a better tomorrow”.

No moralizing intended, just a few thoughts


Oh wait, they adopted vape products. In that case, ignore my comment below.



First they tell everyone that vaping is dangerous. (“they” being Big Tobacco, Big Pharma and various gouvernments). And now BAT finds new ways to push their ‘heat not burn’ product. I tried it once. It’s almost equally revolting as a cigarette. And a lot more expensive. I’m sure it will generate lots of profit. And taxes. (and death).


Maybe Carlos should change his nbr from 55 to 555….


Finally, Zak Brown is taking the team forward…with two steps back.


Absolutely appalling decision by McLaren


Well McLaren are following Ferrari with their lucrative tobacco sponsorship. Blatantly obvious it’s Marlboro M & W in a cheeky smoke and mirrors fudge. Australian Givt are looking into it as they may not allow it at their home GP.


As appalling as McLaren’s points haul over the last few seasons?


This is no different to Ferrari and Ducati’s Phillip Morris deals. They can’t put the name on the car or the bike (although Phillip Morris is trying really hard), but they can have a tent in the travelling circus that will get them access to government ministers and dignitaries from all over the world, without doing anything as unsavoury as overt lobbying. Also with E-Cigs still legal to advertise across most of the world they have a chance to put a name (if not THE name) back on the cars, for a product somewhat less destructive but no less addictive than what they used to push.

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