McLaren put in awkward spot as complaint lodged against their sponsor

McLaren are embroiled in a legal situation heading into the Dutch Grand Prix with health organisations in the Netherlands unhappy with one of the sponsors on the MCL36. Velo is the brand creating a buzz in the Netherlands with McLaren standing by their sponsorship deal.

Dutch health organisations are unhappy with the brand, owned by British American Tobacco, being front and centre on a car that will be seen by millions at next weekend’s Grand Prix. Velo sell ‘100 per cent tobacco-free’ nicotine pouches with the product seen as an alternative to smoking.

The Dutch government announced earlier this year that they would ban all types of nicotine pouches due to health concerns. But there’s no such ban in place from Dutch legislation on the advertisements of such products.

McLaren insists they are abiding by the rules of the country by not changing their sponsorship on their car. “All branding carried on McLaren race cars fully complies with regulatory requirements and advertising standards of each country we race in,” a McLaren spokesperson told

However, Dutch health organisations are not impressed with McLaren effectively bypassing the legal loophole. “It just goes to show again how the tobacco industry is doing everything in its power to keep young people addicted in order to keep this sickening and deadly business going,” said Carla van Gils, director of KWF Dutch Cancer Society.

“We find it bizarre that it is allowed to advertise a product that is banned.” McLaren had a similar situation with Velo at this year’s Miami Grand Prix.

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The United States FDA prohibits teams from openly advertising nicotine and tobacco products on their liveries without an accompanying warning. It meant that McLaren were required to place an extra sticker above the ‘Velo’ logo on the side pod.

It read: “WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.” Tobacco advertisements were once prominent on F1 cars with Marlboro, Camel, West, Lucky Strike and Benson & Hedges among the brands once adorning F1 cars up and down the grid.

But the European Union banned tobacco advertising in 2005 with the FIA following suit across all forms of motorsport a year later.

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