Ferrari has run into a huge controversy in India after displaying the flag of the Italian navy on the nose of its cars.
The flag relates to an incident earlier this year when two Indian fishermen were killed by the navy – who were protecting a cargo ship – after apparently being mistaken for pirates. Two Italian sailors have subsequently faced criminal action in India, and there has been some tension between the countries over the matter.
Ferrari said on its website that it was displaying the flag in relation to the two sailors, and a storm of protest has resulted, with the matter figuring strongly in TV news bulletins.
Meanwhile New Delhi’s foreign affairs spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said “using sports events to promote entirely unrelated causes is contrary to the spirit of sports.”
Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali attempted to play down the matter when quizzed in an FIA press conference: “There was a press release that was done two days ago, so if you want any clarification of that, our press office is absolutely very pleased to answer to your question. But if you look behind in the past we’ve done a lot of initiatives, but there’s nothing that I want to get into very specifically, because it’s not really the place where I should do it.”
However later a statement from company president Luca di Montezemolo reported by news agency ANSA said: “We only want to make a small contribution, with great respect for the Indian authorities, so that a solution might be found through dialogue.”