Renault has hit back at reports that its new livery runs too close to laws against tobacco advertising.

The R31's black and gold colours are a tribute to the famous Lotus cars of the 70s and 80s, which were sponsored by the Imperial Tobacco label John Player Special.

A Health Canada spokesperson said last month that inspectors will look into whether the livery will voilate the Tobacco Act when the F1 circus arrives in Montreal this year.

And an Imperial Tobacco spokesperson confirmed: "It is categorically against the law to present any likeness to a cigarette pack."

But Renault team owner Gerard Lopez hit back by saying the new black and gold livery has no connection with tobacco.

"Number one, we have no relationship with a tobacco company," he is quoted by The Independent newspaper.

"Even if we had, there is another famous team racing around in a colour that is very close to a cigarette manufacturer," added Lopez, clearly referring to the openly Marlboro-sponsored Ferrari.

"For sure there is no interest in promoting anybody's brand. If someone has a problem with that, they essentially have a problem with a non-issue," he said.