Ferrari says flag gesture at India GP not political

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October 27, 2012

Ferrari pushes ahead with the contentious decision to use an Italian navy flag at the Indian Grand Prix, claiming the move is not political. The display was assumed to show solidarity with two Italian sailors who are being held in the country after the shooting deaths of Indian fisherman.

October 27, 2012

Ferrari pushes ahead with the contentious decision to use an Italian navy flag at the Indian Grand Prix, claiming the move is not political. The display was assumed to show solidarity with two Italian sailors who are being held in the country after the shooting deaths of Indian fisherman.

Ferrari says flag gesture at India GP not political

Ferrari says its decision to put Italian naval flags on its cars at this weekend's Indian Grand Prix has nothing to do with politics after it was dragged into a diplomatic row with the host government.

Two Italian navy personnel were held in India in March, and later bailed, following the fatal shooting of two fishermen mistaken for pirates trying to attack an oil tanker the marines were protecting.

The marines, who have been told not to leave India, are still awaiting the outcome of a case that has become a stumbling block in ties between the two countries.

"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," the team said in a statement.

The Federation of Motor Sports Clubs in India (FMSCI), the governing body for the sport in the country, said on Saturday it would never allow motorsports to be politicized in any manner.

FMSCI president Vicky Chandhok also said the Italian team had conveyed to him that their initiative should not be seen as a political one.

"The FMSCI would like to maintain that the FIA code of motorsport is apolitical and non-religious and the FMSCI will not permit motorsports to be politicized in any manner," Chandhok said in a statement.

"FMSCI firmly believes that carrying their national navy flag will not have any effect on the case pending before the Indian courts," Chandhok added.

On Wednesday, the famed Italian outfit said its cars would carry the flag of the Italian navy as a "tribute to one of the outstanding entities of our country" as well as in the hope of finding a solution to the situation.

The team's decision was applauded by the Italian government.

But an unhappy Indian foreign ministry responded Friday by calling the gesture "not in keeping with the spirit of any sport".

Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone said the sport was "apolitical" and that the organizers did not have anything to do with it.

"I don't understand why they (Ferrari) would do that. Quite strange, quite strange… It's not the sort of style you would expect from Ferrari," Ecclestone told the Economics Times newspaper in comments carried on the eve of the race.

The Italian naval flag is displayed prominently on the nose of the red cars, just above the numbering.


Courtesy: AFP