Ferrari will take to the track at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix without the “Mission Winnow” sponsor because it is connected to the tobacco multinational Philip Morris, and the branding is too similar to the familiar Marlboro chevron which once dominated the grid.
Speaking to reporters at the Geneva Motor Show, Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri confirmed, “There were problems with the [Australian] health department and Philip Morris did not have the time to find a solution.”
“Winnow does not refer to a brand, it has nothing to do with tobacco, it concerns the transition from cigarette to electronic. In Australia there will be a surprise for our fans.”
The writing was on the wall for the enigmatic Mission Winnow from the moment it broke cover at the Japanese Grand Prix last year. It did not take long for anti-tobacco activists to see through the smokescreen, with the Australian branch clearly not one to mess with.
Last week the FIA released a revised 2019 F1 World Championship entry list, which removed Mission Winnow from the name of the legendary Italian team. The sport’s governing body prohibits any advertising or sponsorship by tobacco companies.
The team apparel, driver race suits and helmets will also be devoid of the chevron-style branding, which previously featured prominently.
As for prospects ahead of the season opener in Melbourne, Camilleri said, “We always think positive. We always have the same ambitions.”
“The car was born well, we are quite happy with the Barcelona tests even if it is difficult to understand where others are. The car is very balanced, the drivers are quite happy and we always have the same ambitions. We have to work on reliability” added the Ferrari boss.
The legendary Italian team has not won a title since 2008. This year Sebastian Vettel is joined by Charles Leclerc at Maranello, the pair will campaign the SF90 as they attempt to end Mercedes’ half-decade long dominance of the top flight.