Philip Morris renews Ferrari sponsorship on the quiet

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Tobacco company Philip Morris renewed its backing of the Ferrari F1 team over a year ago, but opted not to publicise the news.

The current deal was due to expire at the end of 2015, but Bloomberg reports that Philip Morris agreed to extend its sponsorship until the end of 2018 at a board meeting last year. Tobacco advertising is banned in Formula One and Philip Morris has not had clear Marlboro branding on the car since 2008. However, it continues to back the team and uses its association with Ferrari to promote Marlboro cigarettes in certain territories.

The links between the tobacco company and Ferrari deepened last year when former Philip Morris marketing executive Maurizio Arrivabene took over the role of team principal. Philip Morris is the only tobacco company remaining in Formula One and Sports Pro Magazine reports that it is spending somewhere in the region of $160 million a year on its deal.

Marlboro has a long history in F1 dating back to 1972 when it first sponsored BRM and Iso Marlboro. From 1974 to 1996 it had a series of sponsorship deals with McLaren before switching to a title deal with Ferrari. In 2010 the Ferrari deal came under scrutiny when Marlboro was accused of running subliminal advertising on the cars with its barcode design on the engine cover. Soon after a new Scuderia Ferrari logo appeared in its place and is still carried on the cars today.