India slams Ferrari's protest flag-flying gimmick


India today disapproved of Formula One team Ferrari's decision to race with the Italian navy flag on their cars at Indian Grand Prix as a gesture of solidarity towards its marines facing trial in India over murder charges, saying this is "not in keeping with the spirit of sports".

Reflecting New Delhi's unhappiness, 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."

Announcing their decision to race with the flag of the Italian navy on their cars at this weekend's Indian Grand Prix, a Ferrari team official yesterday has said, "First of all, we just wanted to pay tribute to all the Italian Navy which is one of the excellences of Italy and it's just a sign of hope that a solution can be found about the case that involves two Italian sailors."

"Something which has to be clear that we don't want to say anything in one sense or the another. We have utmost respect for the Indian authorities. We just hope that a solution can be found as soon as possible," he said.

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, to be held at the Buddh International Circuit from October 26-28.

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.

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