Ferrari has opted to drop its Mission Winnow branding for the first race of the 2019 season in Australia but insists the removal will only be a one-off.
The initiative, backed by the team’s long term sponsor Phillip Morris, has been scrutinised by Australian authorities, who launched an investigation if the brand was in conjunction to tobacco advertisement laws.
Tobacco sponsorship is banned in Formula 1 and hasn’t been seen since 2007; Ferrari’s name on the recently updated entry list has removed the Mission Winnow tag.
To avoid further disruption before the opening race in Melbourne next week, Ferrari’s CEO Louis Camilleri explained the direction the team would be taking as a precaution.
“There were problems with the health department [in Australia] and there was no time for Philip Morris to find a solution,” Camilleri said as the Geneva Motor Show, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“[Mission] Winnow is not a brand, it has nothing to do with tobacco, because it concerns the transition from tobacco to electronic [products].
“In any case, in Australia we will have a surprise for the fans on the car.”
The Mission Winnow initiative first appeared on Ferrari’s car at last year’s Japanese Grand Prix, the Italian outfit is one of two teams in F1 with a tobacco sponsored firm.
Despite Ferrari removing its sponsor, director of global communications for Philip Morris International Tommaso Di Giovanni stressed it would be re-introduced for the second round in Bahrain.
“Mission Winnow will remain the title sponsor of Scuderia Ferrari in 2019,” he told RaceFans.net. “However, our activation will be different in Australia than in other countries. We will announce additional details in the lead up to the race in Melbourne.”