BEFORE a ban on tobacco advertising, cigarettes and Formula 1 were synonymous. Remember the Marlboro McLaren and the John Player Lotus?

Now British American Tobacco (BAT) – which employs around 1,000 people at its research and development centre in Southampton – is back on the grid after signing a deal with McLaren.

“McLaren Applied Technologies will work with BAT on areas including battery technology and advanced materials,” a statement from the team stated. “The two companies will share best-practice, innovation knowhow and mutual experience.”

McLaren was once famously sponsored by BAT’s rivals Philip Morris through its Marlboro brand.

BAT says it will have on-car presence throughout the season, which will conform to the regulations concerning tobacco advertising.

The company’s ‘A Better Tomorrow’ platform will be introduced at McLaren’s 2019 car launch tomorrow.

A Better Tomorrow focuses on what BAT calls “reduced-risk products” including e-cigarettes.

Kingsley Wheaton, BAT’s chief marketing officer, said: “We’re extremely proud and excited about this new partnership, further enabling us to accelerate the pace at which we innovate and transform ourselves. It gives us a truly global platform with which to drive greater resonance of our potentially reduced-risk products, including our Vype, Vuse and glo brands.

Zak Brown, chief executive of McLaren Racing, said: “We welcome BAT to the McLaren team and support their ambition of delivering meaningful and lasting change through innovation. BAT’s transformation agenda is central to this partnership and we are pleased to share our experience and expertise in helping to accelerate this.”

BAT ran its own F1 team after buying Tyrrell in 1997. As British American Racing it claimed 15 podium places and in 2004 was second in the constructors’ championship when Jenson Button was their main driver. British American sold out to Honda in 2006.