This weekend in Yeongam, McLaren will be celebrating their 700th Grand Prix in Formula 1.
Since their début at Monaco in 1966, the Woking based squad has taken a mammoth 174 Grand Prix, as well twelve Driver’s and eight Constructor’s Championships.
This week the team are running several posts on their website remembering their respective centennial races; however while this celebration is thoroughly deserved, a minor element of the celebration left me slightly dismayed.
On McLaren’s site, the team represent each centennial with a side-on graphic of the car at the time.
For example, the team’s 300th Grand Prix came at the 1988 San Marino Grand Prix – a race won by the late Ayrton Senna – and while the presentation looks very nice, something is missing – all signs of cigarette sponsorship appears to have been omitted.
And this is where I may come across an utterly foolish bastard.
While understanding completely that cigarette advertising has long since been banned in numerous territories, I have great difficulty accepting what appears to be a subtle erasure of history, irrespective of society’s current view of cigarettes.
The fact is, for twenty-two years, Marlboro sponsored McLaren, with West following on for a time thereafter. Throughout the period, the colours of red and white became synonymous with the team, in the same way silver has become McLaren’s signature colour since 1997. All of this is slightly opposed to their initial colours of Kiwi orange.
That McLaren considers itself a very modern corporation is all well and good; however if it wants its society to be a truly modern and politically liberal one, it needs to accept its past actions and not sweep them under the carpet.
Yes, I do consider smoking to be a disgusting habit and no, I have never smoked in my life, but I have never ignored its existence – that, from a societal point of view, is simply another poison.
On the other hand, I am probably blowing this completely out of proportion; because that is something I do from time to time.