Ferrari has dismissed suggestions that its car livery is using subliminal Marlboro advertising, after calls from leading doctors for a government inquiry into the matter.
As reported yesterday by Britain's The Times, a host of medical figures had called on the British and Spanish governments to look into the extent of Marlboro's backing of Ferrari and especially the use of the bar code that is used on the cars.
Ferrari subsequently publish a statement on its website on Thursday night denying the claims and stating it was baffled why its "color scheme" was being picked out by doctors.
"Today and in recent weeks, articles have been published relating to the partnership contract between Scuderia Ferrari and Philip Morris International, questioning its legality," said the Ferrari statement. "These reports are based on two suppositions: that part of the graphics featured on the Formula 1 cars are reminiscent of the Marlboro logo and even that the red color, which is a traditional feature of our cars, is a form of tobacco publicity.
"Neither of these arguments have any scientific basis, as they rely on some alleged studies which have never been published in academic journals. But more importantly, they do not correspond to the truth.
"The so-called bar code is an integral part of the livery of the car and of all images coordinated by the Scuderia, as can be seen from the fact it is modified every year and, occasionally even during the season. Furthermore, if it was a case of advertising branding, Philip Morris would have to own a legal copyright on it.
"The partnership between Ferrari and Philip Morris is now only exploited in certain initiatives, such as factory visits, meetings with the drivers, merchandising products, all carried out fully within the laws of the various countries where these activities take place. There has been no logo or branding on the racecars since 2007, even in countries where local laws would still have permitted it.
"The premise that simply looking at a red Ferrari can be a more effective means of publicity than a cigarette advertisement seems incredible: how should one assess the choice made by other Formula 1 teams to race a car with a predominantly red livery or to link the image of a driver to a sports car of the same color? Maybe these companies also want to advertise smoking!
"It should be pointed out that red has been the recognized color for Italian racing cars since the very beginning of motorsport, at the start of the 20th century: If there is an immediate association to be made, it is with our company rather than with our partner."