Despite having insisted that there was never any element of a 'subliminal advertising campaign' behind the red, white and black 'barcode' livery on the engine cover of its F10, Ferrari has removed the offending signage ahead of this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.
Last week, a spokesman for the European Public Health Commissioner claimed that the 'barcode' on both the engine cover as well as on the overalls of Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa could be construed as a means of subtly reminding observers about Marlboro cigarettes [see separate story – click here
], with the Scuderia
having prolonged its $1 billion sponsorship agreement with the Philip Morris International brand even in the wake of the blanket EU ban on tobacco advertising in sport.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has branded the accusation 'ridiculous', but at the Circuit de Catalunya this weekend, the 'barcode' has disappeared from the scarlet F10, replaced simply by a white rectangle against a red background – even if the team clothing remains as it was.
Whilst continuing to deny any wrongdoing, in a statement the Prancing Horse has revealed that the decision to modify the livery was made jointly with Philip Morris 'in order to remove all speculation concerning the so-called 'barcode', which was never intended to be a reference to a tobacco brand'.
'By this, we want to put an end to this ridiculous story and concentrate on more important things than on such groundless allegations,' the statement concluded.