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  • No more Marlboro logos for Ferrari
  • Renault has improved, says Massa
  • 'Cold slicks' a safety issue, says Massa

No more Marlboro logos for Ferrari
(GMM)  It is likely that a cigarette brand will never again be outwardly visible on the livery of a formula one car.

Other teams - notably Renault, McLaren and Honda - farewelled their tobacco-fuelled dollars a couple of years ago, as anti-advertising laws swept Europe and the world.

Ferrari, however, opted to renew its association with Philip Morris, and until recently has been displaying Marlboro logos where possible, including in places like Monaco and China.

But at the recent Bahrain grand prix, where local laws theoretically would have allowed Ferrari to run tobacco branding, the two F2008 cars instead displayed the so-called 'barcode' livery -- reminiscent of the Marlboro signage but using white markings instead of letters and logos.

According to Autoweek magazine, Ferrari has confirmed that Marlboro logos "will no longer appear on its cars".

Reportedly, Philip Morris, owned by Altria Group, decided that the 'barcode' livery should be permanent.

The first Marlboro branded cars were the BRM and Iso Marlboro-Fords in 1972, before the long and famous associations with McLaren, and subsequently Ferrari, began.

Marlboro's current Ferrari contract, estimated to be worth around $1bn in total to the Italian team, expires in 2011.

Renault has improved, says Massa
(GMM)  Felipe Massa agrees that Renault seems to have taken a step forward at the Barcelona test.

The Ferrari driver has also been running at the Circuit de Catalunya this week, where on Tuesday Fernando Alonso was at the controls of a visibly updated R28.

Renault has endured an uncompetitive start to the 2008 season, but Alonso appears to have narrowed the gap to the frontrunners ahead of next weekend's Spanish grand prix at the same circuit.

"Renault has improved a little," Massa agreed to the Spanish newspaper Diario AS.  "Now we must wait until the grand prix to draw a clearer conclusion."

The 26-year-old Brazilian, however, is sure that the order at the very top of the grid will remain unchanged in Spain, and he is even somewhat dismissive of BMW-Sauber's apparent arrival as a top team.

"Of our rivals, I think McLaren is a strong team that always gets better throughout the season," he said.

'Cold slicks' a safety issue, says Massa
(GMM)  Felipe Massa has confirmed that formula one drivers are concerned about the reintroduction of slicks and the accompanying ban on tire warmers for 2009.

The Ferrari driver tried Bridgestone's latest version of next year's slicks at Barcelona this week and reported that it was "a pleasure".

Several F1 drivers have already expressed concern, however, that the slick compounds are extremely difficult to get up to speed when teams have simulated the forthcoming ban on tire warming blankets.

"That is something to work on," Massa, 26, confirmed in an interview with the Spanish newspaper Diario AS, "as it could be very dangerous."

Williams racer Nico Rosberg is quoted by the Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell as also harboring concerns about the difficult warming-up phase for the slicks.

He recounts GPDA chairman and McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa as telling him that he nearly drove "straight into the wall" after exiting the pits with cold slicks recently.

Some drivers are believed to have revealed that the warm-up phase adds as much as ten seconds to their initial lap times, even though the problem has been significantly smaller with the latest tires in Barcelona.

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