The BMW Williams Formula One (F1) racing team is to run a car in next weekend’s Belgium Grand Prix featuring the logo “Tobacco Free” to highlight its independence from tobacco sponsorship.
The move will also stress the fact that the Belgian Grand Prix was threatened with cancellation this year after the Belgian Health Ministry banned tobacco advertising and sponsorship of F1.
However, the government then pushed through an amendment allowing some tobacco sponsorship, as long as the activity is limited to the race area and only for the duration of the race.
The logo on the BMW Williams car has been sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline, which owns smoking cessation product NiQuitin CQ, one of the team’s main sponsors.
Last month, Marketing Week revealed that two cigarette companies are in active talks with a number of F1 teams, including Switzerland-based Sauber Petronas (MW July 29).
The European ban on tobacco sponsorship comes into effect next July.
Sources close to banking giant RBS have confirmed that the company is in discussions with McLaren F1 to take a headline sponsorship spot should tobacco brand West withdraw next season.
The bank is also understood to be looking at the possibilities offered by other British F1 teams, including BAR Honda.