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What Tactics F1 Teams Used in The Past to Cover Up Tobacco Advertising

Advertising tobacco companies in F1 racing is totally banned and now some may argue that they are sneaking again from the backdoor. In 2019 at Australian Grand Prix, Ferrari changed its uniforms when its “mission winnow” indicated direct relation with a tobacco company. BAT or British American Tobacco has a partnership with McLaren and that is why later had to alter its “A Better Tomorrow” branding as it clearly shows what it indicated. These are the things about the present when the advertisement of cigarette or even vaping (candy king) is banned but here, we are going to point out the ways how teams from F1 managed to coverup their tobacco sponsors in certain countries (tobacco advertising is banned) at the time when the advertisement of cigarette brands was totally allowed in F1.

Team Names

This is a really very simple and yet effective way to cover up tobacco branding in the past days. In the 90s, this was used by many teams to cover their sponsors when entering a region where tobacco advertising was totally banned. Many popular teams like Williams, Benetton, and McLaren replaced their sponsors’ names with their team names when they were very foremost forces on the F1 grid.


Placing barcodes instead of tobacco companies’ logos was a common tactic in the 90s and 80s. This seems a really simple method and it also worked well. When one can’t write the name of the sponsor’s brand or logo, it is better to replace it with some barcode. But initial attempts by F1 teams were not exactly barcode. BAR and Ferrari became the first ones to render the exact look of barcodes in order to cover their title sponsors’ names if they were in the tobacco business.

Random Words

Yes, while entering the countries where putting tobacco companies’ logo was totally banned, several F1 teams used random words like Blue Word, Racing, and even Team Spirit, that don’t carry any meaning at all. This tactic in the racing began in 1997 by Bitten & Hisses but acclaim should go to Jordan that commanded the techniques with how to switch branding if one was not able to place their cigarette brand sponsors’ names on the cars or livery.

Diver Names

Putting the drivers’ names instead of sponsors’ names became a new trend in the late 1990s whereas, Williams utilized this tactic even years before that. One of the teams that used this method the most was McLaren as it has drivers with very short names and that is why it used to put their names on the side of their respective cars.


No tactic or any cover is needed here. This is among the simplest method to cover the tobacco company sponsor’s names. Well, most of the F1 teams didn’t use this way to cover up when they were entering in regions where tobacco advertising was totally banned but, in the counties, where being creative about placing any kind of branding or logo which relates to tobacco company was totally banned.


At the last, we have put this way of covering tobacco companies but it wasn’t actually cover-up at all. Because just placing the logo of the cigarette brand on the side of the car doesn’t mean that the team was covering up their backers. When teams tried to put the logos of non-tobacco sponsors, there was a clear vision to whom it referred. Some logos of tobacco brands were altered but the “camel” logo clearly shoed who the sponsor was and we don’t know how they got away with it.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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