Former Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa is willing to go to court to claim the 2008 F1 title that was granted to Lewis Hamilton who was driving for McLaren at the time.
Reuters first reported in mid-August that lawyers for Massa have started legal action against F1 and the FIA seeking damages resulting from the so-called Crashgate incident at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix that may have denied him the 2008 title.
And last week, Reuters, citing comments made by Massa to Brazilian website GE, reported that Massa is also seeking the title.
“I have nothing against Hamilton—this battle is about a race that was rigged,” Massa is reported to have said.
Massa, who was driving for Ferrari at the time, started the 2008 Singapore race on the pole and was in the lead when Renault’s Nelson Piquet Jr. deliberately crashed on lap 14 in order to pass the lead position to teammate Fernando Alonso who started the race at 15th on the grid.
Piquet Jr.’s crash was timed to follow an early pit stop made by Alonso. With the safety car out, all other drivers pitted, handing the lead spot to Alonso who eventually went on to win the race, ahead of Williams’ Nico Rosberg in second and Hamilton in third.
During his pit stop, Massa left the box before the fuel hose was removed, which dropped him to last place. He finished the race in 13th position, leaving him out of the points.
Hamilton ultimately won the season and his inaugural title with just one point separating him from Massa, who has argued that the race should have been canceled.
Reuters reported that Massa sought legal advice after Bernie Ecclestone, who was F1’s chief at the time, was quoted in March as saying he and former FIA chief Max Mosley knew in 2008 that the crash was deliberate but had failed to act. The issue was only investigated the following year after Piquet Jr., after being dropped from Renault, alleged that Renault bosses told him to crash, something Renault said at the time it “will not dispute.”
Ecclestone, who is now 92, told Reuters in a phone interview what he couldn’t remember saying the key quotes attributed to him.
Massa remained in F1 until 2017 despite a 2009 crash that left him with a severe head injury. However, he didn’t win another race after the 2008 season.
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