Red is the official racing colour of Italy, and just happens to be the same colour as a pack of Marlboro cigarettes. As Scuderia Ferrari’s number one sponsor, Philip Morris International wants to make sure that the race cars they support display their corporate colours, even if overt branding of cigarette brands is prohibited. PMI has come up with some creative ways to skirt the rules over the years. The ‘bar code’ logo was a creative interpretation of the Marlboro brand, but ‘Mission Winnow’ was on a completely different level. PMI fabricated a company with no products/services, but who’s brand looked suspiciously like Marlboro’s. Genius.
The Russian company behind the 2021 Haas F1 car is not so subtle.
As punishment for Russia’s transgressions (state-sponsored doping and cover-ups) during the 2014 Olympics, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) ruled that all Russian athletes are prohibited for competing under their national flag. Russian athletes will be deemed ‘independents’ and will not have their national anthems played at podium ceremonies. There is little chance that F1 rookie Nikita Mazepin will be anywhere near a podium this season, so playing his national anthem won’t be a problem. After all, the new 2021 Hass F1 car is just a repainted 2020 Haas F1.
However, Nikita’s dad is Russian billionaire Dimitri Mazepin. He owns URALKALI, one of the largest potash fertilizer producers in the world. Dimitri didn’t appreciate WADA’s ruling impacting his kid. So, he bought all the sponsorship space on the side of the Haas F1 car to promote his businesses, and encouraged the F1 team to switch from their traditional red, white and grey to red, white, and blue.
“No, we didn’t circumvent anything. Obviously we cannot use the Russian flag as the Russian flag, but you can use colours on a car. In the end, it’s the athlete which cannot display the Russian flag and not the team. The team is an American team.”Gunther Steiner, team principal Haas F1