In the wake of investigations about its legality, Ferrari has pulled the controversial Mission Winnow branding from the team name and the drivers' race suits
The logos first appeared on the cars in Suzuka last year and you could be forgiven for wondering what the hell Mission Winnow actually is. As it turns out, it’s actually an ambiguous initiative by Philip Morris International (Marlboro, in other words) to promote smoke-free alternatives.
Now, tobacco advertising is banned in most places around the world and there’s some suspicion that the Mission Winnow logo is just subliminal Marlboro advertising. Indeed, the logo itself does bear a passing resemblance to the Marlboro chevron. There’s some speculation that this is why the majority of MW logos on the new SF90 are black, in order to try and distance itself further from the visual similarities to Marlboro. That might seem counter-intuitive to its purpose, but by now everyone knows the links to PMI - it’s done its job.
This has raised eyebrows in Australia, with the federal health department of Victoria supposedly investigating the legality of Ferrari running Mission Winnow branding during the Australian GP and the EU also reportedly investigating the matter.
Ferrari seems to be taking this at least somewhat seriously. The team was officially entered for the season as ‘Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow’ but a recently revised entry list showed that it’s now just ‘Scuderia Ferrari’. Now, reports from Italy are suggesting that the team is also removing the logos from all of the team gear and advertising hoardings, including the drivers’ race suits and helmets - which makes you wonder whether changes are going to have to be made to the car’s livery, too. Interestingly, the official F1 website appears to have edited Charles Leclerc’s driver photo in order to remove the logos (although they are still present on other images).
Ferrari isn’t the only team to run sponsors linked to tobacco companies, either. The logos on the McLaren that read ‘A Better Tomorrow’ are part of an initiative by British American Tobacco to develop and produce “potentially reduced-risk products”. Outside of F1, the Ducati MotoGP team is also running Mission Winnow logos.
What was looking like a potential route for tobacco companies to start advertising again seems to be hitting a roadblock - for some races, at least - if Ferrari’s quiet changes are anything to go by.