Felipe Massa assessing legal options to dispute Lewis Hamilton’s 2008 title win
Following Bernie Ecclestone's revelation of new details, Felpie Massa declared that he is considering his legal alternatives in order to contest Lewis Hamilton's 2008 World Championship victory.
Lewis Hamilton claimed the World Championship for the first time in a spectacular manner during the 2008 Formula One season. Hamilton edged Massa by one point by overtaking Glock on the last lap.
However, the season was also marked by one of the biggest scandals in the history of the sport - the infamous "Crashgate" scandal that rocked the Renault team. Recently Bernie Ecclestone made fresh revelations about the infamous "Crashgate" controversy.
The Crashgate scandal was a controversy in the 2008 Formula One season, where the Renault team was found guilty of ordering driver Nelson Piquet Jr. to crash purposely during the Singapore Grand Prix to give his teammate, Fernando Alonso, an advantage. The scandal led to the resignation of team principal Flavio Briatore and a two-year ban from F1 for the team's chief engineer, Pat Symonds.
It had wide-ranging, bigger impacts, and Massa potentially missed the chance of achieving his first championship as a result of the race. Following the Safety Car, Massa pitted in Singapore, but a bad stop by his Ferrari team led him to return in p13, 10 positions behind title rival Hamilton. Hamilton had a comfortable lead at the top of the standings after a six-point swing on the day.
Speaking to F1-Insider last month, then-owner Ecclestone said he and then FIA president Max Mosley knew about the situation during the 2008 season. “We decided not to do anything for now,” Ecclestone said. “We wanted to protect the sport and save it from a huge scandal. That’s why I used angelic tongues to persuade my former driver Nelson Piquet to keep calm for the time being.”
“Back then, there was a rule that a world championship classification after the FIA awards ceremony at the end of the year was untouchable. So Hamilton was presented with the trophy and everything was fine.
“We had enough information in time to investigate the matter. According to the statutes, we should have canceled the race in Singapore under these conditions."
“That means it would never have happened for the championship standings. And then Felipe Massa would have become World Champion and not Lewis Hamilton.”
Massa believes that this has given him new justification for his appeal. Massa told Motorsport.com that he was looking into legal alternatives to have the decision reversed.
“There is a rule that says that when a championship is decided, from the moment the driver receives the champion’s trophy, things can no longer be changed, even if it has been proven a theft,” the former Ferrari driver said.
“At the time, Ferrari’s lawyers told me about this rule. We went to other lawyers and the answer was that nothing could be done. So I logically believed in this situation.
“But after 15 years, we hear that the [former] owner of the category says that he found out in 2008, together with the president of the FIA, and they did nothing [so as] to not tarnish the name of F1.
“This is very sad, to know the result of this race was supposed to be canceled and I would have a title. In the end, I was the one who lost the most with this result. So, we are going after it to understand all this.
“There are rules, and there are many things that, depending on the country, you cannot go back after 15 years to resolve a situation.”
“But I intend to study the situation; study what the laws say, and the rules. We have to have an idea of what is possible to do.”