McLaren defend sponsor amidst calls for livery ban

Michelle Foster
McLaren's Oscar Piastri at the British Grand Prix.

McLaren's Oscar Piastri at the British Grand Prix.

McLaren have defended their Velo sponsorship after several Dutch health organisations filed a complaint ahead of the Zandvoort race.

Velo is, according to their website, a ‘100 percent tobacco-free nicotine pouch that offers a nicotine hit anytime, anywhere, a great alternative to traditional smoking.’

It’s one of McLaren’s sponsor British American Tobacco products that is aimed at moving away from cigarettes, but the sale of it was banned in the Netherlands in April over health concerns.

‘All branding carried on McLaren race cars fully complies with regulatory requirements’

But with this year’s MCL60 carrying the sponsorship logo on the sidepods, the Dutch Heart Foundation, KWF cancer fund, and the Lung Fund are going to the Advertising Code Commission in a bid to stop McLaren from advertising the snus product during the Dutch Grand Prix.

It is, however, a grey area as the legislation around the advertising of snus pouches has yet to be signed off.

KWF director Carla van Gils told De Telegraaf: “To sustain a sickening and deadly business, in our opinion, this is contrary to good taste and decency.”

Advertising expert Jan Driessen agrees, saying: “If you know that the bags are not allowed to be sold in our country, you shouldn’t want to advertise them as an impactful brand.”

McLaren, though, have defended carrying the Velo logo on the cars, adamant it’s within the legal bounds of Dutch legislation.

“All branding carried on McLaren race cars fully complies with regulatory requirements and advertising standards of each country we race in,” a team spokesperson told recommends

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Although cigarette adverts are banned in Formula One, teams continue to make millions from tobacco companies with McLaren advertising BAT’s Velo product brand while Philip Morris International sponsor Ferrari.

This made headlines earlier this year when F1 industry monitor Formula Money and tobacco industry watchdog STOP claimed that in the fourth season of Netflix’s Drive to Survive alone there was “a total of 1.1 billion minutes of footage streamed around the world” that contained tobacco-related products.

“Research suggests that PMI and BAT are reaching new audiences through the show, including people who don’t otherwise watch F1 races,” read the report.

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