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FIA plans its own legal action 03 Apr 2003

Just as it seems that the arbitration case being bought against the FIA by McLaren and Williams may be resolved, the governing body has signalled its intention to take the European Commission to the European Court of Justice to prevent it bringing forward to July 31 2005 the date by which tobacco advertising will become illegal. Initially it was intended to outlaw this by October 1 2006.

European Commission Directive 98/43/EC has been a thorn in racing's side since 1998. It bans all forms of tobacco sponsorship in sports within European Union countries, but international events, such as Formula One Grands Prix, were granted an exemption until October 1, 2006 because so many teams back in 1998 relied heavily on tobacco advertising. In 2006 a worldwide ban is scheduled to come into effect and the FIA, in collaboration with the World Health Organization and national governments who sponsor the relevant events, has always been working towards that date.

The FIA argues that moving the date forward goes against the "legitimate expectations" of the teams that they had until the end of 2006 to source alternatives types of funding; that no reasons have been given for the change; that inadequate consultation breaches procedural requirements; and that the new date could force Formula One to go beyond EU countries to survive.