- Indian Grand Prix
Italian naval flag not a political statement - Ferrari
Ferrari has denied it is making a political statement at the Indian Grand Prix by carrying the Italian naval insignia on its cars amid a tense diplomatic dispute between the two nations.
Two Italian marines were arrested in India in February after being accused of the accidental shooting of two Indian fishermen while accompanying the oil tanker Enrica Lexie in February. The two countries disagree over how the issue should be resolved and Ferrari's decision to run the flag has attracted criticism in India with the delicate situation still unresolved.
A spokesperson from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement: "Using sporting events to promote causes not of a sporting nature is not in keeping with the spirit of sports."
Asked about the motivation for running the flag on the cars in an FIA press conference, team principal Stefano Domenicali told journalists to read the following statement on Ferrari's website: "Scuderia Ferrari will carry the flag of the Italian Navy on the cars driven by Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa in this weekend's Indian Grand Prix. In doing so, Ferrari pays tribute to one of the outstanding entities of our country, also in the hope that the Indian and Italian authorities will soon find a solution to the situation currently involving two sailors from the Italian Navy."
Domenicali added: "If you look in the past we have done a lot of initiatives. There is nothing that I want to get into specifically [here in the press conference] because it's not the place where we should do it."
Under the FIA's International Sporting Code teams are not allowed to make political statements using their cars. When asked to clarify the issue, Ferrari's head of communications Luca Colajanni told ESPNF1: "I can only refer you to what's on the website. It's not a political statement."
Colajanni told Sky Sports: "It will be on the car and on Sunday. The FIA did not ask anything at all."
A second statement appeared later on the website saying: "The Italian Navy's national flag on the Ferrari race cars at the Indian Grand Prix is there as a tribute to one of our country's outstanding institutions. With all the respect due to the Indian Authorities, Ferrari wishes to make it clear that this initiative does not have, nor should it be seen as having, any political implication."