Ferrari’s Chairman Luca di Montezemelo has rubbished the latest grumbling about its barcode logos adorning the livery of its F1 cars, with recent reports emerging image that leading European doctors claiming the barcode depiction is a form of subliminal advertising for Ferrari’s title sponsor, Marlboro.

Despite tobacco advertising being banned almost worldwide, several doctors have drawn direct comparisons between the barcode logos – which have adorned the Ferrari F1 cars ever since they were forced to remove the Marlboro logos when the advertising ban came in – and the bottom half of Marlboro cigarette packets, claiming that the logos subconsciously advertise the ‘cancer sticks’.

We expressed our surprise that it’s taken these doctors some five years to draw this comparison!

Ferrari 1999 NT When tobacco advertising was still permitted in certain European countries but banned in the likes of France, Great Britain and Germany, the Scuderia ran a slightly barcode logo in place of the Marlboro decals (pictured right, from 1999).

Surely this would scupper Ferrari’s claims that the barcode has been a long-held part of the livery? The barcode has clearly been used a substitute in the past to temporarily replace the Marlboro logo!

Despite the worldwide tobacco advertising ban, Marlboro’s parent company, Phillip Morris, is rumoured to stump up some $100M is sponsorship per year to Ferrari for title sponsorship and naming rights to the team, despite its ‘name’ logos not appearing on any part of the cars, team uniforms or official merchandise.

"Frankly, I find this argument completely pointless and it is verging on the ridiculous to claim that the colour red or a graphic design which shows a barcode could induce people to smoke," di Montezemolo commented.

"At a time when, [in the United States] they are fighting to provide a more equal health service, in the old continent of Europe so-called experts are racking their brains to come up with theories that have no scientific basis; I think there are more important matters to think about than a barcode.

"Therefore, it’s best not to waste any more time replying to this sort of nonsense or to those who are instrumental in wanting to stoke up the story."

And yet, Luca, you juxtapose your concerns regarding the US health system while pocketing a considerable fortune in Phillip Morris cash each year! How can this make sense?

[Images via The Cahier Archive]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.