Indian GP: Ferrari flying the flag for the Italian Navy sparks controversy
By Berthold Bouman
Both Ferrari cars appeared on the Buddh International Circuit with the flag of Italian Navy prominently present on the nose of the F2012, Ferrari denied the flag was a political statement, and yesterday Team Principal Stefano Domenicali said, “No, no, that’s not true. There’s not any political intention or discussion in that.”
Before the Indian Grand Prix Ferrari issued a statement on their 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.”
Ferrari is supporting two marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, who were arrested in India in February and were held responsible for the death of two Indian fishermen. The two were granted bail but are not allowed to leave the country.
Italy’s minister for foreign affairs, Giulio Terzi, was pleased with Ferrari’s support and on twitter wrote, “Congratulations to Ferrari for displaying the Navy’s symbol at the India GP. It will show the sailors the whole country is behind them.”
Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo also gave his two cents, “We just want to give a small contribution, with great respect to the Indian authorities, toward finding a solution with dialogue. The navy is one of Italy’s best symbols. I have great memories of when I was a young student at the Morosini naval academy.”
Yesterday Ferrari hastily issued another statement again denying the flag is a political statement, “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.”
FOM CEO Bernie Ecclestone said it’s the job of India’s national motorsport association, the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI), to determine whether it’s a political statement or not. “What we’d do, we’d look at the national sporting authority (FMSCI) here to have a look at that,” said Ecclestone and added, “Let’s see what can be done. We’ll keep politics out of it.”
The Indian government had already stated they were not happy with the flag and Syed Akbaruddin, the official spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs, said Ferrari was using ‘sporting events to promote causes which are not of a sporting nature is not in keeping with the spirit of sports’.
Article One of the FIA statutes states, “The FIA shall refrain from manifesting racial, political or religious discrimination in the course of its activities and from taking any action in this respect.”
FMSCI president Vicky Chandhok issued a statement today, saying there are no problems with the navy symbol on the Ferrari, “Stefano Domenicalli, Team Principal Scuderia Ferrari, has confirmed that their initiative of carrying their national navy flag does not have and should not be seen as having any political implication.
“FMSCI firmly believes that carrying their national navy flag will not have any effect on the case pending before the Indian courts. The FMSCI will not permit any attempt to subvert the process of justice by politicising the event.”
I seems Ferrari wins again … because their name is Ferrari … and that’s politics as well.