Ferrari drops tobacco branding from name for Australia F1 opener
CGTN

Formula One team Ferrari has dropped tobacco giant Philip Morris' branding from its official name for the season-opening Grand Prix in Australia amid an investigation by authorities over a breach of regulations.

In the team entry list released by Formula One's ruling body FIA this week ahead of the Melbourne race on March 17, the team name was changed from "Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow" to "Scuderia Ferrari".

Mission Winnow's logos can be seen on the Ferrari's racing car at the Formula One Pre-season Tests in Montmelo, Spain, February 19, 2019. /VCG Photo

Mission Winnow's logos can be seen on the Ferrari's racing car at the Formula One Pre-season Tests in Montmelo, Spain, February 19, 2019. /VCG Photo

The FIA is opposed to any advertising or sponsoring of cigarettes or tobacco, but Philip Morris, whose most recognized and best-selling product is Marlboro, re-entered the sport as Ferrari's title partner during the Japanese Grand Prix last October through the section Mission Winnow.

The new brand mainly focuses on electronic cigarettes, which targets "replacing cigarettes with smoke-free products".

There is a long history of Philip Morris' sponsorship with Ferrari Formula One team. In 1996, Philip Morris ended its 22-year sponsorship with McLaren to start its title partner support for Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher of Germany drives the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro F2002 Ferrari V10 racing car to victory at the Formula One German Grand Prix in Hockenheim, Germany, July 28, 2002. /VCG File Photo

Michael Schumacher of Germany drives the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro F2002 Ferrari V10 racing car to victory at the Formula One German Grand Prix in Hockenheim, Germany, July 28, 2002. /VCG File Photo

Even though the European Union bans tobacco advertisements in the print media, on radio and over the internet since 2005, Ferrari still extended its cooperation with the tobacco giant from 2005 to 2011. In between, Marlboro became the only tobacco brand associated with the sport amid the controversy of showcasing "barcodes" on cars.

With the image of "cleaner and safer non-tobacco product," nowadays, Mission Winnow still sparks an investigation by Australia's communications regulator over whether TV broadcasts of the race breached its ban on tobacco advertising. The probe may prevent Ferrari from displaying Mission Winnow logos on their cars, drivers' helmets or outfits at the Australian GP.

There was no immediate comment from Ferrari or Philip Morris. The Australian Grand Prix Corporation said in a statement Tuesday it would "work closely and productively" with Formula One stakeholders and the state government "to develop an appropriate outcome" on the issue.

(Top image: The logos of both Ferrari and Mission Winnow jointly appear at the Formula One Pre-season Tests in Montmelo, Spain, February 20, 2019. /VCG Photo)

(With input from AFP)