Leading doctors have called for an inquiry into the 'subliminal' tobacco advertising on the Ferrari F1 cars of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.

While tobacco advertising is now banned under EU legislation, Ferrari has maintained its sponsorship deal with Phillip Morris' Marlboro brand in recent years.

Now, a spokesman for the European Public Health Commissioner has suggested that the barcode found on both the Ferrari car and its drivers overalls is designed to remind people of a packet of Marlboro cigarettes, which would be an offence under the tobacco advertising laws.

Others have also suggested that the barcode is providing some kind of added advertising that shouldn't be allowed in the sport.

"The bar code looks like the bottom half of a packet of Marlboro cigarettes,"John Britton, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and director of its tobacco advisory group, told The Times. "I was stunned when I saw it. This is pushing at the limits. If you look at how the bar code has evolved over the last four years, it looks like creeping branding."

Ferrari, which is entered into F1 under the banner of Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, denied that the barcode was in anyway linked to advertising.

"The bar code is part of the livery of the car," he said. "It is not part of a subliminal advertising campaign."

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