Ferrari and the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) on Saturday sought to play down the issue of the Formula One team displaying Italian Navy flag on its cars during the Indian Grand Prix.

The issue snowballed into a controversy with the Ministry of External Affairs saying on Friday that using sporting events to promote causes was not in the right spirit.

The Ferrari team wanted to show solidarity with two Italian marines who were facing trial for firing on and killing two fishermen off the Kochi coast earlier this year. The Union government asked FMSCI president Vicky Chandhok to look into the matter, and he issued a statement after meeting Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali here.

“The International Automobile Federation code of motorsport is apolitical and non-religious and the FMSCI will not permit motorsports to be politicised in any manner. Mr. Domenicali has confirmed that their initiative of carrying their national Navy flag does not have and should not be seen as having any political implication.

“The 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,” said Mr. Chandhok.

Ferrari reiterated that the move was not political. “The Italian Navy’s flag on the Ferrari race cars is there as a tribute to one of our country’s outstanding institutions. With all 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.”

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