The Brazilian Felipe Massa has just initiated the process to obtain compensation for the 2008 title, which he lost to Lewis Hamilton by only one point. Together with his lawyers, the former Ferrari driver sent a letter to Formula 1 and the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) on August 15, addressed to Stefano Domenicali (also a Scuderia senior manager at the time) and Mohammad Ben Sulayem.
An eight-page “pre-suit letter”, claiming substantial damages, resulting from an alleged “conspiracy” which deprived him of the title of world champion 15 years ago.
Did Crashgate skew the season?
The problem does not come from the end of the 2008 season. Massa, who had crossed the finish line as the winner at Interlagos, was “virtually” champion for a few tens of seconds, before Lewis Hamilton, in difficulty at the end of the race rainy, passes a Timo Glock in distress in the last corner and snatches the point which was enough to grant him the world title. Moreover, Glock had been the victim of a conspiracy theory from some fans who had accused the German pilot of having been bought by Mclaren to let Hamilton pass.
Liberty Media: but shut up Bernie!
No, the twist is to be linked to the famous Singapore Crashgate. At the time, Flavio Briatore had ordered Nelson Piquet Jr. to crash voluntarily to provoke the intervention of the safety car in order to favor the strategy of Fernando Alonso who had stopped in the pits just before the neutralization and had then won the race. During this race, Lewis Hamilton had picked up six points while Felipe Massa, who started from pole position and was the leader at the time of the accident, had retired in the pits after taking the refueling pipe with him during a messed up stop by the Scuderia (already)
But then, why stir up such an old affair, when the Crashgate was revealed in 2010 and the instigators have already paid? In fact, last spring Bernie Ecclestone, former big boss of Formula One Management, confided in an interview that the FIA and the FOM were aware of the cheating organized by Renault even before the end of the 2008 season. the authorities had decided not to act to protect F1 as well as the interests of the sport and the championship, endorsing at the same time the results and excluding any possibility of questioning them: “At the time, the rule wanted that a world championship standings are untouchable after the FIA prize-giving ceremony”.
Victim of a conspiracy?
Felipe Massa therefore considers himself the victim of a “conspiracy committed by individuals at the highest level of F1, as well as by the FIA and the management of Formula 1”. His law firm argues that the Brazilian would have lost tens of millions of euros in income, not to mention damage to his image. Massa therefore hopes to obtain the cancellation of the Singapore Grand Prix, and therefore, with the modification which would thus affect the world ranking, recover the title on green carpet. If this seems unlikely, financial compensation is always possible. F1 and FIA have 14 days to respond before legal action The lawyers’ letter also warns that Felipe Massa intends to “pursue legal action in order to obtain compensation for the damage suffered”, also wishing “that be recognized that, without these illegal acts, [Massa] would have won the 2008 championship.
For lack of title, a nice check?
We can remain cautious about this approach. Admittedly, the voluntary crash of Nelson Piquet had an impact, since it was during refueling under the safety car that Massa suffered his problem and lost the lead in the race. Except that the incident in the pit lane is attributable to Ferrari, period.
Then, fifteen years have passed since this case! And the cancellation of this race would cause a change in the winners, but what interest for Massa to be a champion on green carpet, a champion of the court? The defense is flawed. First, Massa claims to be the victim of a conspiracy, but the crashgate was not aimed at him, and all this masquerade with Nelson Piquet Jr was only intended to help Alonso win, and not to destroy Massa’s championship, even if the course of the race – but this is not predictable – affected him in his title race.
Canceled results exist, such as the cancellation of Lance Armstrong’s victories in the Tour de France, but not only was the winner in question the culprit, and above all this did not award victory in the Tour second in the standings. We also saw that Mercedes had considered having the Abu Dhabi 2021 result annulled, on the pretext that the safety car regulations were not correctly respected at the end of the grand prix, which would have reassigned the title to Hamilton. , but Mercedes quickly waived the appeal, especially since Max Verstappen, who would have been harmed in the event of the result being annulled, had nothing to reproach himself for directly in this affair.
Moreover, the press release from Massa’s lawyers already gives an answer since they say that without these acts, Massa ‘would’ have won the title, but the conditional means everything. How to predict what would have happened in the last races of the season, with a normal Singapore Grand Prix? No, the only valid sporting decision would have been the disqualification of Alonso and Renault during this race (at least). And if Massa were successful, it would be Pandora’s box. We could look back on the 1994 season and the Benetton with traction control, or even come back to Braham’s 1983 title and his doctored fuel…