Greater Noida: Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali on Friday refused to be drawn into the raging controversy surrounding its decision to race with the Italian navy flag on their cars at Sunday's Indian Grand Prix as a gesture of solidarity towards its marines facing trial in India over murder charges.
Domenicali declined to comment on the issue in an official FIA press conference at the Buddh International Circuit here after India today expressed its unhappiness over the Italian Formula One outfit's decision, saying this is "not in keeping with the spirit of sports".
"If you look behind in the past we have done a lot of initiatives, but there is nothing I want to get into specifically because this is not the place we should do it," he said. Asked whether Ferrari would reconsider its decision, Domenicali said: "Honestly, I don't think it is a matter to discuss this subject here."
Disapproving of Ferrari's decision, official spokesperson in the ministry of external affairs Syed Akbaruddin said: "Using sporting events to promote cause which are not of a sporting nature is not in keeping with the spirit of sports."
Ferrari had created a flutter by announcing on their official website that it will show its support for Italian sailors by racing with military symbols on its cars' livery at the second edition of the Indian GP. Ferrari said on its website that it would be paying tribute to the navy as "one of the outstanding entities of our country".
Ferrari's statement added that the gesture was "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". The FIA's statues, however, state that Formula One teams should not make political gestures, and Domenicali insisted that there was nothing political about their statement. "There are not any political intents or discussion," he said.
Earlier in the day, the chief executive of Formula One, Bernie Ecclestone also distanced himself from the controversy surrounding Ferrari, saying the sport has nothing to do with any "political" issue.
Ecclestone said as the supremo of the sport, he would leave such political matters on national associations, in India's case The Federation of Motor Sports Club of India, to look into.
"What we'd do, we'd look at the national sporting authority (FMSCI) here to have a look at that ... we are not political," Ecclestone said at the Buddh International Circuit here on Friday when asked about Ferrari's decision.
Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, the marines on board the Italian ship 'Enrica Lexie', had allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen - Valentine Jalastine and Ajesh Bi - off Kerala coast on February 15.
They were detained on February 19 and were sent to Central Prison in Thiruvananthpuram. Later on, they were granted bail in June but on the condition that they must remain in Indian territory.