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As Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa practiced for the Grand Prix on Friday, it was off-track events which grabbed most headlines for Ferrari. Both in the Indian press and across social networking websites, the Italian team has received furious reactions to placing an Italian naval flag on its cars following an alleged incident with Indian sailors.
The general belief is that two sailors were accidently shot dead by a pair of Italian navy officers, who are thus being held in India as the two countries continue to disagree over the matter. In accordance with the wishes of company President Luca di Montezemolo, Ferrari has placed the flag on its two cars to hail the Italian navy and hope for a quick resolution to the issue.
“Using sporting events to promote a cause which is not of a sporting nature is not in keeping with the spirit of sports,” argues Syed Akbaruddin, spokesman for India’s ministry of external affairs.
When quizzed over some of the outrage, Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali insisted that the displaying of the flag was not a topic he wished to discuss.
“If you look back into the past, we have done a lot of initiatives,” he said. “There is nothing I want to get into specifically because this is not the place for it. I honestly don’t think it is a matter for this press conference…if you have any questions, we have a press office.”
Earlier on this season, the FIA stressed that Formula 1 should not be used as a political tool, when some journalists were cautioned for their line of questioning in Bahrain.
“There is no political intent or discussion here,” Domenicali added.
Di Montezemolo, a political figure himself, is yet to comment on the matter.
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