McLaren to kick the cigarette habit for Australian Grand Prix
British team follows Ferrari in running its cars without tobacco branding due to strict Aussie laws
McLaren will race in Formula One's season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Sunday without British American Tobacco (BAT) branding on their cars amid concerns about Australia's strict anti-tobacco advertising regulation.
The British team's decision follows that of Ferrari to drop Philip Morris branding for their "Mission Winnow" initiative at Albert Park, citing problems with Australia's anti-tobacco advertising legislation.
McLaren announced a global partnership with BAT last month, which included having BAT's "A Better Tomorrow" branding on cars and drivers' overalls. BAT said last month the branding focused on its "commitment ... to providing less risky tobacco and nicotine choices".
A McLaren spokesman said in an email to Reuters: "So BAT decided in advance not to brand the car or team with A Better Tomorrow but instead pass their branding rights onto Seven Eleven for this race."
Australian media reported last month that government health departments were looking into whether Ferrari's original Philip Morris livery had broken the ban on tobacco advertising.
Ferrari replaced the Mission Winnow logo in Melbourne with a "90 years" livery, which marks the 90th anniversary of the Italian racing company established by Enzo Ferrari.
F1 was once synonymous with tobacco and the liveries of many cigarette-sponsored cars became iconic, including the black and gold of the John Player Special Lotus, the red and white Marlboro McLarens and the blue and white Rothmans Williams.
That all ended when Formula One banned tobacco advertising in 2006. However, tobacco brands have been trying to slip in through the back door.
At last year's Japanese GP Ferrari started wearing the branding of Mission Winnow, an initiative from Philip Morris (which also has Marlboro in its stable) aimed at developing less harmful alternatives to cigarettes.
But the shape of the logo prompted accusations that it is similar to Marlboro’s white and red chevron.