Ferrari have attempted to deflect suggestions that the appearance of the insignia of the Italian navy on their race cars this weekend is connected to the decision by Indian legal authorities to prosecute two Italian marines over an incident earlier in the year.

The two marines - Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Gironehave - have been charged with murder over the shooting in February of two Indian fishermen in international waters off the coast of the southern Indian state of Kerala. The two men have been granted bail but must stay in India until trial.

However, the FIA International Sporting Code and Article 1 of the governing body's statutes forbids F1 cars to carry any sort of racial, political or religious at Grand Prix events.

Related Articles

The original statement noting the addition of the Italian naval insignia to the cars stated that "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.

A new statement on the website on Friday added: "With all the 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."

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali was asked about the matter at several times during the team principals' press conference on Friday, but he did his best to deflect questions.

"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," he said. "There's nothing that I want to into very specifically because it's not really the place where I should do it.

"I don't think this is a matter for this press conference to discuss this subject, to be honest," he added. "As I said, if you have any questions or doubt about it, we have our press office available to you."

Pressed a third time about the matter, Domenicali strongly denied that the press releases had made any point regarding the two sailors.

"I think that if you look at what is written [on the website], it is not really what you are saying," he countered to the persistent questioning form the reporters. "I think that you have to refer to that, to be honest, and look what is written exactly, and the reason why we put that on.

"There's not any political intention or discussion in that," he insisted. "If you look at that, that's really what is written."

When the issue was raised with him later in the day, Bernie Ecclestone reiterated that F1 is apolitical.

"What we'd do, we'd look at the national sporting authority here to have a look at that," he said. "We are not political."

The Federation of Motor Sport Clubs of India subsequently released a statement in which they stated that they accepted Ferrari's reassurances that the flag insignia did not breach the spirit of the FIA regulations.

"The FMSCI would like to maintain that the FIA code of motorsport is apolitical and non-religious and the FMSCI will not permit motorsports to be politicised in any manner," said the Federation's president Vicky Chandhok after meeting the Ferrari team principal on Saturday. "Stefano Domenicali has confirmed their initiative of carrying their national navy flag does not have, and should not be seen as, having any political implication.

"FMSCI firmly believes carrying their national navy flag will not have any effect on the case pending before the Indian courts," he added. "The FMSCI will not permit any attempt to subvert the process of justice by politicising the event."

That meant Ferrari will not be asked to remove the insignia before the Grand Prix on Sunday.

The addition of the flag on the Ferrari cars had been welcomed earlier in the week by the Italian government, but has been criticised by their counterparts in the Indian foreign ministry who had said that it was "not in keeping with the spirit of any sport".