Formula 1

Controversy Surrounds McLaren’s Velo Branding Ahead of Dutch Grand Prix

Health Concerns and Ethical Questions Arise as Nicotine Pouches Take Center Stage in Formula 1

The branding choices of Formula 1 teams have always been a subject of intrigue and discussion among fans and experts alike. McLaren, one of the prominent teams in the sport, has recently found itself in the midst of a controversy surrounding its Velo branding, just before the highly anticipated Dutch Grand Prix. This issue has captured the attention of various health organizations concerned about the promotion of nicotine pouches, as revealed in a comprehensive report from

British American Tobacco’s Transition Strategy

Central to this controversy is British American Tobacco (BAT), a significant sponsor of the McLaren team. In an effort to pivot from traditional cigarettes, BAT introduced the Velo brand—a lineup of flavored nicotine pouches. This strategic move by BAT is aligned with its overarching vision to embrace tobacco-free nicotine alternatives. The Velo brand represents a stepping stone in BAT’s journey towards providing less harmful nicotine products to consumers.

Navigating the Changing Landscape

The focal point of this controversy lies in the timing and context of the promotion. The Netherlands recently joined a growing number of European countries in implementing a ban on the sale of nicotine pouches. The rationale behind this decision stems from mounting health concerns, particularly the accessibility of these potentially addictive products to young individuals. This legislative stance reflects a wider trend toward safeguarding public health and curbing the spread of nicotine addiction.

“All branding carried on McLaren race cars fully complies with regulatory requirements and advertising standards of each country we race in.”

The Advertising Conundrum

However, an intriguing loophole emerges within this situation. While the ban on the sale of nicotine pouches is in place, the advertising regulations for these products are still in the process of development in the Netherlands. This regulatory gap provides McLaren with an opportunity to showcase its Velo branding at the Zandvoort circuit during the Dutch Grand Prix. McLaren’s rationale for this decision revolves around the endorsements of prominent Dutch health institutions such as the Dutch Heart Foundation and the KWF Dutch Cancer Society.

A Call to Action

Taking a proactive stance against this branding decision, leading health organizations have lodged a formal complaint with the Dutch Advertising Code Committee. Their collective aim is to draw attention to the controversial nature of associating Formula 1, a globally followed sport, with products that raise significant health concerns. Carla van Gils, representing the KWF Dutch Cancer Society, emphasized the need for heightened awareness regarding the implications of such partnerships.

Innovative Branding Twist

While McLaren’s connection with the Velo brand is evident across most of their 2023 races, a unique twist is set to occur during the Zandvoort race. The team’s branding will undergo a transformation, featuring the word “LOVE.” This alteration is a result of a fan competition that afforded 60 lucky fans the opportunity to have their names featured on the MCL60 car driven by Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri. Moreover, an additional fortunate participant will secure an exclusive visit to the Dutch Grand Prix.

“It just goes to show again how the tobacco industry is doing everything in its power to keep young people addicted… We find it bizarre that it is allowed to advertise a product that is banned.”

Navigating International Variances

It’s important to note that regulations concerning nicotine products are not uniform across the globe. In the United States, the sale of such items is prohibited to individuals under the age of 21. Conversely, the UK permits the sale of nicotine pouches to individuals under 18, in contrast to the restrictions imposed on vaping products. Addressing age-related concerns, Velo has taken a cautious approach by limiting its Grand Prix competition to fans aged 18 and above.

In conclusion, McLaren’s Velo branding for the forthcoming Dutch Grand Prix has ignited a multifaceted debate encompassing health concerns, advertising ethics, and fan engagement. As the controversy unfolds, the wider implications of these branding decisions on Formula 1’s image and its responsibility towards public health remain subjects of crucial discussion.

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