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Motor Racing

Ferrari hit back in subliminal tobacco advertising row

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has slammed claims his team's cars carry subliminal tobacco advertising as "ridiculous".

A report last week suggested the use of the barcode displayed on the Ferraris driven this year by Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa was a link to long-time sponsor Philip Morris.

John Britton, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and director of its tobacco advisory group, suggested the barcode resembled the bottom half of a packet of Marlboro cigarettes, and that it was "creeping branding".

Tobacco advertising has been banned in Formula One since 2005, yet the British and Spanish Governments have been urged to ascertain whether Ferrari and Philip Morris are in breach of EU laws.

Responding to the claims, Di Montezemolo said: "Frankly, I find this argument completely pointless.

"It is verging on the ridiculous to claim that the colour red or a graphic design which shows a barcode could induce people to smoke.

"At a time when, on the other side of the Atlantic they are fighting to provide a more equal health service, in the old continent of Europe, so-called experts are racking their brains to come up with theories that have no scientific basis.

"I think there are more important matters to think about than a barcode.

"Therefore, it's best not to waste any more time replying to this sort of nonsense, or to those who are instrumental in wanting to stoke up the story."