Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Yas Marina, 2018

McLaren announces deal with British American Tobacco

2019 F1 season

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McLaren Racing has announced a new multi-year partnership with British American Tobacco.

The deal will be “focused solely on BAT’s potentially reduced risk products and grounded in technology and innovation”, said McLaren in a statement.

Tobacco advertising is banned in sport and McLaren has not indicated whether the deal will be reflected on the livery of the team’s new car for the 2019 F1 season, which will be launched on Thursday.

“We welcome BAT to the McLaren team and support their ambition of delivering meaningful and lasting change through innovation,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown.

“BAT’s transformation agenda is central to this partnership and we are pleased to share our technical experience and expertise in helping to accelerate this.”

BAT previously ran its own Formula 1 team, British American Racing, which competed between 1999 and 2004 before being taken over by Honda.

BAT chief marketing officer Kingsley Wheaton said: “We’re extremely proud and excited about this new partnership, further enabling us to accelerate the pace at which we innovate and transform ourselves.

“It gives us a truly global platform with which to drive greater resonance of our potentially reduced risk products, including our Vype, Vuse and glo brands. Ultimately, innovation and technology will support us in creating a better tomorrow’ for our consumers worldwide.”

The only other F1 team currently connected to a tobacco brand is Ferrari, who is sponsored by Marlboro producers Philip Morris International. Ferrari’s cars carry the logos of PMI’s Mission Winnow initiative, which is currently subject to investigations in Australia as to whether it is being used to promote tobacco.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 108 comments on “McLaren announces deal with British American Tobacco”

    1. Woohoo.. Make F1 Great Again!

    2. Tobacco is back! they found the loophole. Just wishful slogans with their name associated with it, and voila! indirectly, we’ll be talking about them behind their “mission winnow” schemes.

      1. @fer-no65

        Tobacco is back!

        I don’t think Tobacco ever left. Ferrari always had them Marlboro bar codes on their wings and some form of minimal tobacco advertising on their car. Now they’ve taken a step forward in tobacco advertising with Mission Winnow. It was only a matter of time before teams say if Ferrari can do it, why can’t we?

        1. @todfod I know, but no other company seemed to approach any other team. Ferrari’s deal with Marlboro seemed unique, but now that BAT is entering again, we can safely say that it’s not just an exception.

          Now you mention the barcode, remember also the Scuderia Ferrari logo :P It’s impressive they’ve had that since 2011 and no one complained, it just so obvious!

      2. They could change their name to British American Racing…

      3. Yeah, I guess PM getting away with the only too much like Marlboro logo things on the Ferrari brought back the interest of others – “If you can’t beat them, join them” @todfod.

        It’s not completely true that nobody complained though @fer-no65. All fans, a boatload of journalists and no doubt PM’s competitors have noticed and protested this. But it seems to duck the letters of the written agreements and laws (so far).

        I must say that this drops my respect for McLaren as a racing team on a lower rung though, just like it helps keeping Ferrari lower down than they would otherwise be.

      4. Well to be fair – unlike the chevron hiding mission winnow. The vpye etc are vaping products that have no tobacco in them at all.

    3. Just when you thought McLaren couldn’t sink any lower… 🙄

      1. @skylab, surely this is their lowest point!? Can only get better? That’s what I thought when they were with Honda though…

        McLaren are the team that got me into F1, I collected models of their cars and their merch. But now… seems like their soul got ripped out along the way and now they’re just a shell of a team that used to be great. I miss the 2000’s McLaren very much.

    4. McLaren swoosh logo looks eerie similar to BAT leaf now…

      1. I always thought it was a NIKE take-off

        1. NIKE is linked to exercise; that would be too healthy.

        2. @paulheppler, if you track back through history, you will realise that the McLaren logo originally started out as the Marlboro tobacco chevron – they they modified it to make it look a bit like a tyre track, before it gradually evolved into the current curved logo that they have today.

          1. I thought it was a stylisation of the speedy kiwi from the 60s?

    5. Mission BATnow McLaren Renault

      1. BAT – british american turbo

    6. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
      11th February 2019, 10:56

      First Mission Winnow, now BAT
      It’s good for McLaren they find extra funding, but I think we really shouldn’t want tabacco manufacturers back in F1

      1. How about Imperial Tobacco’s DuMaurrier colours (Red and Grey) for Racing point, or MacDonald’s Export’A’ green and gold. Open it up again.

    7. As a McLaren fan, I’m embarassed.

      1. I’m embarrassed for the sport.

      2. Likewise. Talk about taking a huge step backwards!

      3. Me too, even more so now.
        Seem money supersedes integrity these days.

        1. Why are you embarrassed? Is it wrong to advertise tobacco alternatives to smokers or in this case other innovative products. Would you be as embarrassed if McLaren signed a deal with Niquitin? There are a lot of ethically questionable deals in formula one, all the fuel and lubricant deals should embarrass you as well. A hypothetical scenario, If the Ministry of Defense decided to sponsor Mclaran or Williams for the British GP, would you be embarrassed because peoples children are being sent to war and could die.
          Lets be more realistic and not get caught up in seeking a Utopia

          1. Why are you embarrassed?

            Because, whilst vaping helps existing smokers to quit, “Teens who start vaping are nearly three times more likely to go on to smoke cigarettes than their peers who don’t use any type of tobacco product”

            If the Ministry of Defense decided to sponsor …

            Whilst it is not guaranteed that people will die from joining the armed forces (2016 was the first year since 1968 with no deaths in action), it is guaranteed for many who smoke.

      4. Exactly! As a McLaren fan this very disappointing.

        1. Surely to underlying problem is that motor racing is attractive
          to a very broad range of population types including small
          children. So that the dangers of tobacco smoking in any form
          shouldn’t be allowed to appear as acceptable sponsorship
          in motor racing. And that is because the serious health
          risks of tobacco smoking are disguised and distorted by
          the glamour attached to sports like Formula 1.

          We all know that motor racing today is hideously expensive
          to any team, and that the costs in formula 1 are stratospheric.
          But allowing the tobacco industry to use this sport to sell
          it’s evil wares is, and always has been, pure evil.

          Well, that’s my view…..I await the death threats with interest…..

    8. PMI is back in F1 (even though it never left), BAT is back in F1…RJ Reynolds…you’re up!

      1. Whoops, RJ Reynolds is part of the BAT group.

        1. Who knows who is behind the money that “rich energy” is able to put into Haas tough @geemac

    9. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall)
      11th February 2019, 11:24

      That’s a shock.

    10. It’s British American Tomacco, and they actually sell spiced vegetables.

      1. That made me LOL.

        Also, props for the Meatwad avatar.

      2. you say tomato, I say tobacco.

    11. I don’t get it: is this a new title sponsor? or is this a deal like they had with Chandon, ‘you’re not really title sponsor, but we got nothing better going on, so we’ll give title sponsor space‘?

      no matter what it is, is really sad seeing tobacco advertising back in f1.

    12. Would you say the same if a large sole vape company was advertising on the car? Who actually buys stuff because they see it on the car? The way the government is going with energy drinks nowadays, why isn’t that banned? You have to act like your buying a pack of fags to get a poxy red bull! 😂

    13. As long as they’re not breaking any rules on sponsorship, what’s the problem? People are happy to see alcohol sponsors on cars and want the old tobacco liveries back for the nostalgia of the old days. If they’re not advertising tobacco products, surely no one will notice or know they are a tobacco company.

      1. you would have an issue if someone in your family died of lung cancer. its a moral issue. they are still making billions of dollars by poisoning people. sponsorship bans are to have less people know about their products, but everyone still knows who they are. and why do you assume people are happy with alcohol advertising?? I am glad martini has left f1. as for liveries, that is just nostalgia.

        1. I understand that if they were outwardly advertising tobacco products or encouraging those to smoke but are you more concerned that the tobacco company is being given more publicity therefore increasing their profile and revenue? They should then get rid of energy drink sponsorship or any sponsorship which can potentially cause harm to a person.

          1. Magnus Rubensson (@)
            11th February 2019, 12:48

            In that case I would welcome having the old national racing colours back … silver German cars, green British cars, red Italian cars, light blue Renaults etc.

            Wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the public will be expected (!) to feel outrage over energy drinks in 10 years time. We’re just not quite there yet.

        2. @kpcart Nope, wouldn’t bother me at all.

        3. @kpcart My father smoked marlboros til the day he died… that was a poor choice on his part… HOWEVER, I live in America, where grown ups are able to make their own decisions.

          No need for a nanny state. Or if you are gonna cite them, at least be consistent and demand that any sugar drink also be removed…

          1. America, where grown ups are able to make their own decisions… to buy guns… lmao.

    14. Dunno why all the negative comments on Tobacco sponsors.

      Soft drinks are bad for you and energy drinks make your heart pump like a PU dialed up to 11. What about alcohol? you can drive after 20 cigs but can you drive after 20 kamakaze shots?

      1. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall)
        11th February 2019, 12:11

        Cigarettes are probably worse for you than the other examples and advertising them is banned in most countries which is what makes this so shocking.

        1. ‘so shocking’

          Listen to yourself.

          1. Very well said tony Mansell!

            You guys are acting like a cigarette raped and murdered someone you care about.

            As I said above, cigarette smoking took my father from me, but he was a grown ass man, and made his own choices. I recommend you all act the same.

            1. So you’re saying: we should all make our own choices… as long as they don’t conflict with yours… lmao

      2. soft drinks, energy drinks and alcohol will be banned in time too, but it is disgusting that already banned companies are finding loopholes.

      3. Yeah, and what was wrong about slavery :P
        Some things which were fine in the past simply are not OK today.

        PS I don’t mind that people smoke. But I do mind if they do it around me/others even when on a terrace or entering a building (or even worse when they children nearby).
        And I also mind that companies deliberately design smoking products so that people get addicted.

        1. The future for compaines like BAR is vaping, not tobacco.

        2. Thing is, @coldfly, even if you are not around, unless they take a shower afterwards, breathe into a bag for at least some time and change all their clothing, being around them will STILL get you inhaling at least some of the dirt @chikano

          1. Agree, @bascb.
            It’s disgusting being in an elevator with somebody full of that foul smell.

          2. Do you guys drive cars? I don’t like going for a walk in my city and all I smell is exhaust. Trust me there is a lot more exhaust out there that I am breathing than some guy on the corner smoking. I mean that is weak if that is all you can come up with as an argument against tobacco. The title sponsor of F1 is Heneiken. I have never heard of anyone coming home after having a few smokes and beating their wife or killing an innocent family.

            1. Sure, so why do you follow F1 then. You should be campaigning for clean energy only, right away and now. Ban all combustion engines and fossile fuel firing devices as far from civilization as possible.

              Fact is though, that transport is a rather more real need than “having a smoke” is. Well, apart from for the people who got coaxed into becoming addicts by misleading marketing, suppressing knowledge etc.

              And don’t even start with the thing about Heineken there. Sure, alcohol abuse IS a very real problem. And domestic violence even more so. But it is NOT automatically and undevidably connected to the act of drinking alcohol, unlike the real and undenieable health effects even from smoking a single cigarette has both on yourself, on the people (and animals) around you.

            2. Must be a smoker still in denial, @darryn.
              I could argue hours with you, but I guess you’ll drag new comparisons into this.

              And please read my initial post to see ‘all the arguments’ against smoking.
              PS read up on the studies of the effects on kids where a parent smokes at home or in the car.

    15. these companies killed millions of people, and continue to do so and make money in the most dirty corporate capitalistic way. how on earth are they allowed to still be sponsors in sport??? it boggles the mind. these companies should not exist… I would be more fine with them, if it was CLEAN 100% TOBACCO, but these companies put chemicals in that get you more addicted and kill you. shame on McLaren, now I wont care if they disappear from f1 if they keep losing.

      1. I’ve watched F1 since I was 8 (I’m in my mid-30s now) and can name at least 10 major cigarette brands off the top of my head without giving it any thought at all, and yet I’ve never smoked in my life. If tobacco advertising in F1 was as effective as the tobacco companies/the anti-smoking lobby would have you believe, I’d be on 80 a day right now.

        1. (I) can name at least 10 major cigarette brands

          Seems pretty effective to me. @geemac.

          If only they would sponsor some cool guys in movies, and have pretty girls in bars offer you free smokes it might actually get people started, and become a regular client of one of those 10 brands.

          1. I can name them, but I haven’t spent a penny/cent on them in that time and don’t intend to either. Brand awareness is one thing, advertising leading to revenue is quite another.

        2. @geemac

          I’ve never smoked in my life

          evidently, you are not the target audience.

          1. They didn’t know that when I was 8 and I was hero worshipping guys driving cars plastered with Marlboro, Camel, Gitantes and Barclay logos @frood19

            1. Magnus Rubensson (@)
              11th February 2019, 16:48

              +1 Gold Leaf, John Player Special … I don’t smoke either.

              Swedish TV interviewed Ronnie Peterson in the 70s and the TV reporter tried to offer RP cigarrettes (Peterson didn’t smoke). 5:20-6:02:
              https://youtu.be/50SshiasJ8s?t=5m20s

              I’ve translated the Swedish text below:
              Reporter: In the film there was a lot of talk about the cigarrette brand that is behind the team and your car, right.
              RP: Mmm…
              Reporter: Can I not offer you a John Player Special?
              RP: Thanks, but I don’t smoke…
              Reporter: What?!
              RP (repeats): Thanks, but I don’t smoke…
              Reporter: You don’t smoke?
              RP: No.
              Reporter: Even though you drive a car that markets John Player?
              RP: The car has adverts but I don’t market it [the product].
              Reporter: But you walked around with John Player adverts on your overalls.
              RP: Yeah, well, I did, but you’ve never seen me smoke the cigarrettes.
              Reporter: But doesn’t it feel weird to walk around with a cigarrette brand on your back and not use the product?
              RP: No…

    16. Were this many people bummed when Williams and Force India signed deals with alcohol producers? F1’s hardly got any sort of moral high ground having only just escaped Ecclestone, validating despot regimes and even the recent legal troubles surrounding Ghosn and Mallya. I think it’s a reflection of the state of the times, the sport’s been in decline and sponsors have been hard to come by for a number of years now, if a tobacco producer wants to funnel funding via some sort of positive branding association I don’t really see an issue. As long as the branding used at F1 events isn’t “pro-smoker” it’s just another sponsor/brand that wants the association.

      If we were a bit more present we’d probably be up in arms about sponsorship from oil companies too or about celebrating male-dominated engineering companies…

      1. no as many people were bummed, because alcohol producers are not banned. if alcohol advertising was banned and then Williams and FI made those deals, then yes people would be bummed. personally I feel car manufacturers should be banned from F1 and motorsport too.

      2. First of all, there were quite a few people who started speaking up about that too @alec-glen, be it only gradually as society changed since FI had been sponsored by alcohol for all of its existance when few people minded.

        But even then, there is one huge difference. If you drink, you directly affect your own health and on top of that your behaviour can increase risk for others (traffic, abuse etc). But if you smoke, just that directly affects the health of those immediately around you as well as the people you are close to (physically) afterwards. It lingers in your clothes, on the walls, too, so even if you put away a cigarette, you are still having a negative effect on their health.
        Also, let us not forget how hard these companies have worked to make smoking even more addictive, have gone very very far to hide those effects for years and are still resisting calls to improve their behaviour.

      3. Let’s not forget the bin Ladens used to sponsored Williams

    17. I think the wording of “tobacco ban” needs to be changed to “nicotine ban”.

      This would end all this nonsense.

    18. I’m no fan of tobacco companies, but if McLaren are using the same loopholes as Ferrari to get tobacco money without advertising the brand, its hard to see the justification for people complaining about McLaren but not being anywhere as vocal about PMI/Ferrari.

      It is probably a time of reckoning for the powers-that-be to decide if they want the rules and laws updated to say that teams cannot accept sponsorship from tobacco/tobacco-affiliated companies, instead of only banning advertising.

    19. BAT-  Ultimately, innovation and technology will support us in creating a better tomorrow’ for our consumers worldwide.”

      That is so noble of them to want to create a better tomorrow for their customers! GO BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO!!

      1. I am a cigarette smoker (45 yrs now). It is my choice … like semi-non-assisted suicide.

      2. I wonder what that ‘better tomorrow for our consumers’ looks like.
        More expensive wood, and better colour options, for the coffins ;)

    20. Great news, the more sponsorship we have in F1 the better. Of course some petticoat raisers will no doubt faint but I for one am happy, these nicotine e cigs are a massive health improvement over real cigarettes. I just hope we get some of the great colour schemes they brought in last time rather than the fussy amateur hour stuff we seem to get nowadays

      1. What does “petticoat raisers” mean?

      2. I haven’t seen a petticoat in years… but I never fainted as a young man when I saw one (or more) raised… lol

    21. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      11th February 2019, 12:39

      Just in time to announce BAT and McLaren’s joint venture “Business Harvest”

    22. Ppl make it sound like tobacco companies have a gun to their head and say SMOKE! I used to smoke and it has nothing to do with advertising in F1. my grandad died of smoking last year but I don’t blame the tobacco companies, it was his CHOICE to smoke at the end of the day.

    23. I’m calling it now. The new Williams livery will be a throwback to the old blue, white and gold Rothman’s livery, though of course there’ll be no connection with the tobacco company :p

    24. “our potentially reduced risk products” – good grief, Marketing meets Legal!

      1. Less Lethal?

        So it won’t kill you a lot?

        1. @zapski – keeps you alive longer so you can keep buying their product for longer. It’s all about the money, honey :)

    25. You gotta hand it to Zak Brown’s marketing skills: telling potential backers “We’ve lost our #1 driver, who was also one of F1’s most popular figures, and last year we had one of our worst seasons ever, please give us your money” isn’t an easy task

    26. It has to be demoralizing for the whole team to see that type of sponsorship on their car. I doubt Australia is going to be the only place that will be investigating these moving forward. I hope they ban it in Australia.

    27. So long as they don’t renew any partnership with previous BAT drivers….

    28. Ferrari: Draws flak for having a thinly veiled tobacco sponsorship that doesn’t even bear a passing resemblance in its name, and whose logo is recognised as an allusion to the tobacco brand’s logo only by stage 4 conspiracy theorists.
      McLaren: Hold my beer!

      Now, the obvious ban is against tobacco brand logos on F1 cars … but what if you put an F1 car on a cigarette packet?

    29. Roll up! Roll up! It’s a golden advertising opportunity too good to leaf alone. And WHO doesn’t love our cool smokin’… Renault engines?
      – Now onwards, to Baku!

    30. Now also bring back the cigarette package colors on the cars…. there’s nostalgia for ya

      1. They’d all be a browny-green sludge colour then…

    31. Tobacco advertising is banned, so British American Tobacco definitely won’t be advertising tobacco. In fact tobacco is the one thing they won’t be advertising.

      Tobacco.

    32. I am by no means a tobacco fan, but I have no problem with them advertising their products, because I’m an adult and I can think for myself.

      I find it a lot more disturbing, that FIA’s biggest brand is sponsored by a alcohol-company. Because drinking & driving is the most frequent death cause.
      If you ban tobacco sponsorship, fine. But at the same time, you need to ban other health-threatening products aswell, like alcohol, energy drinks and in general products which contain sugar. Because the sugar-industry is the most vicous, devious, intrigant industry in the world and they make people sick and kill them.

      Each of their products might individually not be as lethal as tobacco, but if you add them up, they are a lot more health-threatening.
      The only reason why the ban on these products hasn’t happened yet, is that the food-industry is much bigger and closely connected to the national governments (especially in the U.S.), which makes it extremely difficult to get rid of them.

      F1 will face serious issues, if they don’t start searching for alternative branches other than the ones mentioned above. The teams just won’t be able to close their financial holes.

    33. McLaren 2019, sponsored by tobacco and chocolate.

    34. It’s looking better already for McLaren with a bunch of new sponsors. Wouldn’t be surprised if Brown met sponsor funding targets already again this year, but much earlier this time.

      PS The Ferrari Marlboro connection and funding goes deeper than just some barcode shapes and MissionWinnow. We have alcohol, disgusting energy drinks, sugary drinks and other companies that do no good. It’s extremely hypocritical to complain about McLaren landing a tobacco sponsor.

      McLaren are a zero emissions company which is great considering the business they are in.

      1. Oh and don’t forget the fossil fuel companies.

    35. Oh come on… Great problems with tobacco advertising in a sport fueled by oil? Oil companies are responsible of things like wars, destruction of the environment, pollution, plastic… And everybody is complaining that the return of money from tobacco companies in f1 is immoral? What a joke…

      1. Exactly. It’s totally O.K. for the biggest motorsport championship to be sponsored by a alcohol company, but money from tobacco is completely immoral.

    36. I’m just shocked BAT finds value in sponsoring McLaren.

      1. Mission Win-oh-no…

    37. I enjoy hand rolled cigs with a beer… I typically don’t smoke if I’m not having a beer.. And I know there loads of people out there that are the same… So do we stop beer ads as well?

      1. I like a sneaky rollup too when I’m drinking. Everyting in moderation ha :)

      2. Magnus Rubensson (@)
        12th February 2019, 9:42

        Don’t see the problem with tobacco ads or beer ads or ads for any product which is LEGAL to sell.

        A state/country could of course ban tobacco sales. That would automatically result in zero tobacco advertising if a GP is run in that country. (That particular state/country would of course lose all tobacco tax revenue as a result, hey ho.)

    38. Double standards in F1.

      Get rid of gridgirls bring back tobacco…

    39. Good news for McLaren. Finally a title sponsor.

    40. I would laugh so much if they ban all advertising for even this schemes.

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