Jean Todt has insisted the FIA is aligned with the World Health Organisation which has called on Formula One to completely ban tobacco companies sponsoring teams even if they are not promoting cigarettes. That is despite neither Todt, the FIA president, nor Formula One’s CEO, Chase Carey, saying they plan to legislate against companies that currently do so.
Before this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, Ferrari removed the “Mission Winnow” branding from its car - sponsored by Phillip Morris, the company that makes Marlboro cigarettes - and McLaren have removed their British American Tobacco-sponsored “A Better Tomorrow” branding.
Both were considered to contravene Australia stringent tobacco advertising laws. Formula One banned tobacco advertising in 2006 but the Mission Winnow and A Better Tomorrow branding is permitted because it does not promote smoking or its products.
On Thursday the WHO issued a statement calling for sporting bodies including Formula One to adopt polices preventing participants from receiving any sponsorship through tobacco companies.
Todt insisted the FIA supported their position. “For many years tobacco advertising is forbidden,” he said. “So we completely support the WHO position. There is little more we can say. We are allied very closely with the WHO and well aligned with their position.”
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However Todt did not say the current agreements would be outlawed, a position reflected by F1’s CEO, Chase Carey. “We have rules,” said Carey. “We work with the teams and the sponsors to respect the rules that exist.”
Todt, speaking in Melbourne, also said that plans were in motion to implement a permanent solution to replacing the former Formula One race director Charlie Whiting, who died suddenly on Thursday in Melbourne. For the Australian Grand Prix Whiting will be replaced by his deputy race director, Michael Masi, but Todt revealed that the FIA had already been working with Whiting on who would take over from him.
“This is something we have touched on now for quite a while including with Charlie because we knew he would not be able to have the position forever, so we were working and thinking about a future plan. Unfortunately we will have to implement that earlier than we were hoping.”
With the cars on track on Friday for the first time at a race weekend this year it was Mercedes who showed the strongest early form. Lewis Hamilton, the defending world champion who had warned that his team were behind Ferrari after winter testing, was quickest in the first session, but only three-hundredths clear of Sebastian Vettel in second. Vettel was a further four-hundredths in front of his Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc. As was expected the midfield looks particularly tight. Only five tenths separated sixth and 15th places on Friday morning.
In the afternoon, with Vettel and Ferrari not entirely happy with the balance of their car, Hamilton was once again quickest, locking out the top two spots alongside his team-mate Valtteri Bottas. Vettel was in fifth, eight-tenths down.
Vettel struggled with confidence in the car beneath him and was surprised at Mercedes’ pace. “What was all that about them being out of shape and so on? I didn’t understand that to be honest. So it was a bit of a surprise,” he said. “They looked very strong and much stronger than they claimed before the weekend.”
This article was written by Giles Richards at Albert Park from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.
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