Stefano Domenicali denies Ferrari making a political statement with their car at Indian GP

Appearance of flag on the nose courted controversy on Friday

Last Updated: 26/10/12 5:02pm

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Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali has denied Ferrari are making a political statement by running with the flag of the Italian navy on their car at the Indian GP.

The Italian team announced via a statement on their website on Wednesday that both of their F2012s would carry the flag of the country's navy to "pay tribute to one of the outstanding entities of our country".

The statement added that the team were running with the flag "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".

Two Italian sailors have been charged with murder following the shooting of two Indian fishermen off the coast of the southern state of Kerala in February, and Ferrari's decision to run with the Italian Navy's emblem courted controversy at the Indian GP on Friday.

The issue was put to Domenicali during his appearance in the Team Principals' Press Conference at the Buddh International Circuit, first by two local journalists and then by a British reporter, but the Italian dismissed suggestions that the decision to run the flag had political connotations.

"If you look at what is written on the press conference [sic] it is not really what you are saying," he replied.

"I think that you have to refer to that to be honest and look what is written exactly and the reason why we put that on. There is not any political intent in that. If you look at that, that is really what is written."

When then pressed on the matter, he replied: "No, it's not true. It's not true to be honest what you're saying."

Later on Friday evening in India Ferrari released an official statement clarifying the purpose of the flag on the car.

"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," the brief statement read.

"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 FIA's International Sporting Code prohibits F1 teams from making any kind of political statement at a Grand Prix weekend while Article 1 of the governing body's 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."

Paying a visit to the paddock on Friday, commercial rights controller Bernie Ecclestone said that F1 is apolitical and the matter should be left to India's national motorsport association the FMSCI.

"What we'd do, we'd look at the national sporting authority here to have a look at that...we are not political," Ecclestone said.

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