The newly named Lotus Renault GP team could be forced to change its livery for the Canadian Grand Prix, according to reports in the national press.
The team unveiled its new black and gold colour scheme during the annual Autosport International
show in Birmingham at the weekend, with the new livery evoking memories of the famous John Player Special-backed cars that raced under the Lotus name in the 1970s and 1980s.
While there are no links to JPS this time around, the team could find itself in hot water due to strict tobacco advertising laws in place in Canada, with a spokesperson for Health Canada telling the Toronto Globe and Mail
that 'tobacco inspectors would need to fully review to assess whether a violation of the Tobacco Act has occurred' if the car makes an appearance on track at the Circuit Gilles Villenueve.
Despite the fact that the livery isn't intended to represent any kind of tobacco adverting, Canadian law states that promotion can include 'a representation about a product or service by any means, whether directly or indirectly, including any communication of information about a product or service and its price and distribution, that is likely to influence and shape attitudes, beliefs and behaviours about the product or service'.
Such is the strictness of the Canadian laws that Imperial Tobacco, the owner of the JPS brand, is unable to use the black and gold colours on its own website, with a spokesperson for the company saying the team should be concerned about the potential issues the livery could cause.
“It is categorically against the law to present any likeness to a cigarette pack,” they said. “If I were Lotus though, I would be concerned — I wonder if they are aware of the law in Canada.”
Lotus Renault would need to seek approval from rival teams to use an alternative livery in Canada, although the team could argue that Ferrari's controversial barcode – seen as 'hidden' advertising for Marlboro – has featured on its car in Montreal since the Tobacco Act came into place.