Ferrari under fire over political gesture

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In the round-up: Ferrari attract criticism for making a public show of support during the Indian Grand Prix for the Italian navy who are involved in a dispute with the Indian government.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Ferrari cause Indian fury (The Telegraph)

“Speaking to Italian network SKY Tg24, Luca di Montezemolo said: ‘It is the contribution that Ferrari can make to this story.'”

Ferrari’s support for Italian guards kicks row (The Times of India)

“While Indian officials said that the gesture was not in the right spirit, Italian foreign minister Giulio Terzi has complimented Ferrari for the move. ‘This shows that the entire country stands behind the marines’ said Terzi.”

Indian GP – Conference 2 (FIA)

“Q: (Ian Parkes – Press Association) I have read it, and obviously you’re making a point regarding the two sailors that are in dispute with…
SD: No, no, that’s not true.
Q: (Ian Parkes – Press Association) It’s on the website. I’ve read what’s on the website. You’re saying that it’s for the two sailors.
SD: It’s not true, to be honest, what you’re saying.”

The page Parkes referred to says: “Ferrari pays tribute to one of the outstanding entities of our country, 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.”

Ferrari added a new page yesterday claiming “Ferrari wishes to make it clear that this initiative does not have, nor should it be seen as having, any political implication”.

‘Lewis not told of 2013 parts’ (Sky)

Ted Kravitz: “Sam Michael told us at lunchtime that Lewis Hamilton was running parts for next year but McLaren didn’t tell Hamilton because they didn’t want him to know what they were.”

Hamilton to keep testing new parts (Autosport)

“[Sam Michael] said it was routine for drivers to be relatively unaware of the fine detail of their technical evaluation programmes.”

Q&A – Ross Brawn on Hamilton, Schumacher & Lauda (F1)

“Michael is a driver who gets very deeply involved with a team. He is not the kind of driver who just turns up on a race weekend, drives the car and goes away again. He was aware of what was happening and as I just said, the Lewis matter evolved. There was not one day where we said this is what we are going to do. Such a decision – like all big decisions – develops.”

F1 Rule making process set to change (James Allen on F1)

“Sources suggest that Ferrari has given up its historic right of veto over rule changes, but does have the casting vote in the new F1 Strategy Group.”

Red Bull claim that Sebastian Vettel will not join Ferrari in 2014 (The Guardian)

Christian Horner: “Absolutely, he will be here in 2014, no doubt about it.”

Ecclestone rebuffs bank’s $400m F1 demand (FT, registration required)

“They asked our lawyers in Germany. They said could we have 400 million back? I did not respond. There is no point, is there?”

1968 – Bruce sets the winning standard in his orange-liveried M7A (McLaren)

“Amazingly Bruce, who had last won a Grand Epreuve no less than six years before at Monaco in 1962, thought he had only finished second in the 1968 Belgian GP at Spa, only to be alerted that he had done one better as he pulled up on the exit of the La Source hairpin to save himself the stress and strain of an extra nine mile down lap.”

Formula One Betting: Indian Grand Prix Qualifying (Unibet)

My look ahead to qualifying for Unibet.


Comment of the day

@Thejudge13 joins those perplexed by Ferrari’s political stunt.

Ferrari at times appear barely capable of managing the politics of a mere racing car business, so how on earth were they persuaded that they had the deftness of touch to intervene in the delicacies of an international diplomatic dispute between two sovereign governments?

To be fair to the often maligned Mr Ecclestone, he has recognised the political time bomb Ferrari have dropped and is quickly into damage limitation mode on first practice day in India. […]

And guess what – Nothing from monsieur Todt.

From the forum

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On this day in F1

On this day in 1957 a non-championship race was held in Morocco ahead of the race which would concluded the 1958 championship season.

Tony Brooks took pole position but retired with an electrical problem on his Vanwall. Jean Behra, who had started second, won the race for Maserati, followed by Brooks’ team mate Stuart Lewis-Evans.

Image © Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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49 comments on “Ferrari under fire over political gesture”

  1. Ah yes, but they are Ferrari, so will anything be done about it? I very much doubt it.

    1. @tdog If a team or individual wishes to make a political message I haven’t got anything against that in principle, just as I have no qualms about making my own political views clear.

      However when you do that you have to accept that some people may disagree with you.

      In this case, I think it’s hypocritical and cowardly for Ferrari to make what is unquestionably a political statement, and then deny it is. The disconnection between di Montezemolo’s statement and Domenicali’s suggests that the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing at Ferrari.

      Of course the idea that sport can exist in a vacuum untouched by politics is naive nonsense – as we’ve already seen this year.

      1. Is montezemolo even in India? He’s the one reaping all the glory for defending his country in the italian papers, poor Dominicali, who doesn’t sound like he wants anything to do with this, is the one who has to defend (or deny) his bosses’ actions to the Indian press. Montazemolo’s position is indefensible, but he threw Domincaili to the dogs to defend it anyway, hence the disconnect. Crude and cynical, but not hypocritical: they’re not fooling a soul, and the politicing clauses in the rulebook are only there to quash unwelcome opinions.

  2. Ferrari added a new page yesterday claiming “Ferrari wishes to make it clear that this initiative does not have, nor should it be seen as having, any political implication”.

    PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF ! I have no idea what’s all this situation about, I don’t know what’s going on with those sailors or whatever, but that sort of “clarification” really, really ****** me off !

  3. I have mentioned the story of the Navy this morning after the second practice session & i said that it was a provocation to the Indians the last thing Ferrari could do now is politics It’s always good to support your compatriot but this is not a simple case two fisherman have been killed
    Bernie will not be pleased with politics on the tracks especially in the new tracks where his new Business could be affected (Imagine if the Indians will boycott next year’s race )
    I don’t know what is Ferrari intention doing politics at this stage of the championship ???

    1. I agree with you, this is a provocation… and certanly F1 should not allowed it, FIA should have made they take that seal out of the cars or not run the practices… now nothing will be made because is FERRARI…

    2. Completely agree. This was an unnecessary move by Ferrari, as they should just focus on racing instead of showing their patriotism or political stance.

      If a similar situation had happened the other way around – Indian marines had killed Italian civilians, and if Force India had taken a stance similar to what Ferrari has taken at Monza, I’m pretty sure that Force India wouldn’t be able to race without taking out the flags. Infact I’m pretty sure that Force India would have some monetary fine or points taken away due to their actions. Ferrari on the other hand will race with absolutely no implications

      1. I think you are spot on their. Would this be any other team, there’s no way they would get away with a political statement like that, without even having to remove it and not getting any kind of fine.

      2. Not only that. Although people from most countries don’t accept it, Indians are subject to one of the highest instances of racial discrimination and profiling. Even a very well known ex-Indian President is not spared from racial profiling and such treatment at airports.

        Indian prisoners / suspects abroad are not given any consideration whatsoever. Why should the Marines, who have committed a crime and admitted the same too, be given any consideration ? Despite this, they’re being treated very well, which speaks a lot about India’s sensitivity to high profile issues.

        I just wish people across the world don’t take India and its people for granted. For too long India has suffered at the hands of foreigners and no one can now deny it its rightful place in the world.

    3. Perhaps if Ferrari spent more time developing the car and less time making senseless political statements, Alonso’s WDC wouldn’t be slipping away from them.

  4. On the one hand I can see the idea of showing support for your countrymen, on the other…what are they thinking!? I can’t see how any possible good can come of this. It doesn’t help the situation and if it does anything to Ferrari it only has a negative impact (however minor in the long term) everywhere but in Italy. It’s just not a prudent thing to do, and it appears Ferrari are sticking their oar into a situation where it doesn’t ever belong.

  5. @keithcollantine The Rss Brawn Q&A hyperlink isn’t a hyperlink..

    1. @timi Fixed, thannks.

  6. IMO this whole episode has done more harm than good for Ferrari.

    1. Indeed it has. Bit of a lapse in judgement on Ferrari’s part. My only hope is that they’ve made the opposite step in the F2012’s updates.

  7. The Italian marines are out on bail. They just have to remain in India until the trial is over. What more do they want? As @thejudge13 said, had it been the UK it would have been much worse, they would still be in jail.

    1. I just received the newspaper here in India. The story has made it to the front page

      1. I think this is a good reason for the FIA to take it seriously, this is exactly the type of thing they were trying to avoid.

        1. Exactly, sadly I would be surprised if they took action on Ferrari (would it be McLaren, or Mercedes now … sad state of affairs)

  8. In stating a rule that is against “political” messages, the FIA have really got themselves in tangles here. Blame the FIA, not Ferrari. For what is it that Ferrari have done wrong?

    The problem is it’s all subjective. After all, what does political actually entail? Hugo Chavez’s oil company plastered all over the side of the Williams? Ferrari blackening their nose cones upon the death of Pope John Paul II? It’s all relative.

    Is it that something is only political if it refers to the matter of Government? Or international relations? The problem is that politics is all about power. F1 is all about power. The two will inevitably linked, especially when one notes the involvement of a company as patriotic as Ferrari. The Scuderia haven’t done anything wrong here. Perhaps if more teams starting sticking up for their countries’ interests, they could make a real difference.

    1. Well, I would not like any team from any country to come to my country and support the accused of murder my countrymen… I agree with Buxton on this one, if they wanted to support the Italy Navy they should have done so in Monza, not in India…

    2. This isn’t marketing or mourning though, this is announcing support for two defendants in a murder case, not only that but also rubbing the apparent victims noses in it by doing it in their own country. I dont know the specifics of the case so I cant say whether the charge is justified or not, but it’s something the Italian government needs to work out, not an F1 team.

      Ferrari know what they did was dicey, if they didn’t they wouldn’t be trying to backpedal so hard in the press conference.

    3. Its really going to help get everything running smooth with customs for everyone too. Shows how it even directly hurts the F1 teams!

    4. This is support of murderers, just because they are Italians. Ferrari should be thrown out of the GP.

  9. This was not the time to rock the boat.
    I think for Ferrari 110% of every thing they do should be concentrated on winning the championship with Fernando.

  10. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
    27th October 2012, 3:16

    SD: No, no, that’s not true…. It’s not true, to be honest, what you’re saying.

    Domenicali’s comments seem to imply that even Ferrari themselves are conflicted over the flag issue. As has been suggested by some other commentators, it’s likely that the display of the flag was a political gesture enacted on Luca di Montezemolo’s orders, given he’s the only one fervently defending it. It’s all an attempt to curry political favor. Vicky Chandhok summed it up pretty well in his tweet – such inflammatory gestures have no place in Formula One.

    1. Yes, it certainly seems like one of LDM’s political shenanigans. The FIA should tell them to either remove the flag or they dont get to race in my opinion.

      1. Shouldn’t even let them partake in qualifying. Lets put a sticker over it there’s ample time for that. And hit them with a big fine for it anyway.

  11. Is this silly flag business more to do with Luca’s domestic political ambitions? Particulalry when the previous Primne Minister has just been sentenced to four years in jail.

    1. Of course it has. Along with Ecclestone, LdM is the most morally corrupt person in F1.

  12. If I was one of those two Italian marines being held unjustly in India despite the incident having allegedly occurred in int’l waters (thereby meaning the Italians would be tried in Italian courts), I would certainly appreciate Ferrari’s gesture. Bravo, Ferrari! The global culture of aggressive, bullying-victimhood-from-offense is ridiculous. No matter what you say or do you can find someone or a group who will be offended by it. With the end result being political correctness and self-censorship of both thought and speech, I would rather Ferrari thumb its nose at everyone who rushes-in to claim to have been offended, and victimized by Ferrari, than appease them. I’ll repeat: political correctness and self-censorship of thought and speech suck!

  13. I love how everyone claims that sport is non-political, too. Please. Have you never heard of East Germany? the CCCP? Sport WAS politics through the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, and for some countries, like Cuba, this remains true. So what? The US boycotted the 1980 Olympics b/c of world events. The Soviets boycotted in 1984… I’m glad Ferrari is displaying the flag of the Italian Navy and only wish they had stuck by their guns (no pun intended) and refused to downplay the overt symbolic nature of the gesture. I didn’t see Will Buxton refuse to cover the GP in Bahrain, so what credibility he has to comment on “political” matters is lost on me. He’s just another tool of the corporate media, representing the atrocious Speed channel here in the States. Bravo, Ferrari!

    1. This has nothing to do with censorship or political bullying !!! Ferrari is CLEARLY WRONG !!!

      The Italian Marines killed 2 innocent Indian fishermen, in Indian waters, suspecting them of being pirates, when they were clearly traveling in a fishing boat named St.Antony !!! Somalian pirates use skiffs and are predominantly Muslim (no offense against any religion..just stating a fact ) AND THEY DON’T OPERATE IN INDIAN WATERS !!!!

      The Marines panicked and acted hastily, taking two innocent lives and rightfully, the law is taking its course !! And they have been treated very well in India and now are not even in jail !!!

      Absolutely distasteful on Ferrari’s part !!!

      1. @joepa most Indians would not have cared had Ferrari done this after the court case was over with the judgement delivered. Since the matter is subjudice, it has invited wrath of everybody

      2. and how do you know that the soldiers killed the two fisherman? The defendant is not guilty until it is proved so.

        1. As far as I understand, no one is claiming they did not kill those fishermen. Just the italians arguging they were in their right to defend from assumed pirates here @caci99

          1. @bascb Yep, you are right, my bad. I wanted to say the circumstances on which the incident happened. These things are always tricky, and ususally the big guy walks away. Ferrari are making a stand a sporting team, the major maybe in Italy. On the other hand I can see LDM is using this more as a political gain to himself in Italy, rather than interfering with the issues between Italy and India.

        2. You are right that they are contesting the case based on the “Right to defend” principle.

          However, in every country, this right is not an absolute right and it must be exercised in only the rarest of rare circumstances, using utmost discretion.
          The Italian Marines did not employ common sense and in an act of false bravado, gunned down innocent men.

          It is a no brainer here that they are guilty and should be punished, especially because the act was committed in Indian waters and thus, comes under the jurisdiction of Indian Law.

          And they have been treated extremely well and are even being provided with Italian food, something that is not commonplace in India !!! Ferrari needn’t have made a mountain of a molehill here with this inappropriate gesture !!

  14. FI mysteriously disappeared in Bahrain Q, would Ferrari have the same experience in India? :)

  15. I stand by Ferrari in this case. They do present a great deal in Italy, and being supported by them, is not just a political issue. Sports has always being involved with politics. Claiming that it has nothing to do with it it is plain blindness. I congratulate them for standing up and supporting two of their marine corps whom they believe are innocent, even knowing that this would have raised a great furor against them. The hand of LDM behind this is clear to be seen, but there is always someone behind the scenes who makes the decisions.

    1. That might be so, but its a clear breach of the FIA regulations. I am convinced that no competitor or organiser should get away with that. What next, challenge the right of the stewards to give fines for pitlane speeding?

  16. here is LdM playing the politician game. Next April there are going to be general elections in Italy, and Monty (not Monti) will be in the race with a new party, although just as “mentor”. During the last weeks, some Italian centre-right newspapers (i.e. the area that LdM wants to “conquer” for his party) pressed him to let Ferrari show their support to the Italian Marines, and in the end he accepted. I don’t want to enter the dispute whether the marines are guilty or innocent, i think they may have overreacted because in the last few years there have been lots of pirate attacks in the Indian Ocean concerning Italian commercial ships. What I don’t like is the use of Ferrari as a political instrument for the private interests of their president.

  17. Ferrai hasn’t done anything wrong here, why should they be ‘secretive’ about supporting their navy-men?

  18. I wonder how FIA and Bernie would have reacted if some team had painted some local opposition’s symbol on their cars at the Bahrain GP this year.

  19. A big mistake of Ferrari. Of course, Formula 1 is closely linked to politics, but by all means we must avoid situations like this. Just generate controversy, discomfort and disunity among the people.

  20. It was only a matter of time before Hamilton was going to be kept supposedly in the dark about any new developments. It’s not like every teams aero philosophy or implementation is the same you can’t just bolt on new parts to a different car. If Mercedes want to learn anything they need only watch the race.

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