John Player Special deny return to F1 with Lotus

1986 was the last year of JPS involvement in F1 - here Ayrton Senna drives the Lotus 98T

1986 was the last year of JPS involvement in F1 – here Ayrton Senna drives the Lotus 98T

Imperial Tobacco has played down reports it is looking to return to Formula 1 with Lotus in the aftermath of recent reports speculating that a foray back into the sport is on the cards.

Recently, Pastor Maldonado said he would welcome the inspiration of Lotus’ black and gold livery – the iconic John Player Special cigarette brand – back to the sport with Enstone.

Tobacco advertising in Formula 1 is banned, but Ferrari continues to be backed by Philip Morris, whose Marlboro colours resemble the imagery on the Italian team’s cars and logos.

“For sure, a sponsor is welcome,” Venezuelan Maldonado said. “Whoever can join the team, it’s always welcome.”

But John Player Special parent Imperial Tobacco has played down the reports.

“As is well known, sponsorship in Formula 1 with tobacco companies has been prohibited for quite some time,” group press officer Simon Evans told Speed Week. “Our company would never act in a way that amounts to a breach of the law.”

Asked if the company could pursue a partnership along the lines of Ferrari’s with Philip Morris, Evans replied: “I have no knowledge of the details of the agreement between Philip Morris International and Ferrari. I can only repeat that we do not seek a sponsorship agreement with a team.” (GMM)