Felipe Massa is exploring legal options to challenge the controversial 2008 Formula One World Drivers’ Championship result following bombshell comments from former sport chief Bernie Ecclestone.
The ex-Ferrari star lost the title this year on the final lap of the final race of the season by just a point to McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, in one of the most exciting finishes in F1 history.
However, Massa’s title hopes had already suffered a massive dampener in Singapore, 15th of 18 races held this season.
This race is remembered for the “Crashgate” affair – one of the biggest cheating scandals in the sport’s recent history.
The Renault team planned for Nelson Piquet to intentionally park his car against the wall to bring out a safety car that teammate Fernando Alonso would benefit from.
Felipe Massa (left) tries to question the controversial 2008 Drivers’ World Championship result after bombshell comments from former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone
The 2008 Singapore race is remembered for the ‘Crashgate’ affair, in which Renault planned to deliberately overthrow Nelson Piquet to release a safety car (pictured).
Ecclestone now says he wants to protect F1 and save it from a huge scandal with “Crashgate”.
Massa, who was leading the race at the time, pitted under the safety car but a problematic stop eventually brought him back to 13th place, with Alonso winning and Hamilton third.
Before the race in Singapore, Hamilton was just one point ahead of Massa and then went seven points ahead.
Massa now claims the Singapore race cost him the title in 2008.
The following year, the cheating scandal came to light when Piquet revealed his team had told him to fall on purpose.
Now, new comments from Ecclestone suggest F1 executives knew about the Renault conspiracy “during the 2008 season” when there would have been time to overturn the bottom line.
“We have decided not to do anything for the time being,” he told German website F1 Insider.
“We wanted to protect the sport and save it from a big scandal.
“Back then, the rule was that a World Championship classification after the FIA award ceremony at the end of the year was untouchable. So Hamilton was presented with the trophy and everything was fine.
Massa now claims the race’s controversial finish in Singapore cost him the title in 2008 – and a legal challenge may be imminent
“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.”
When the bombing claims were made against Massa, he said he would consider a legal challenge.
“There’s a rule that says that once a championship is decided, things can’t be changed from the moment the driver gets the championship trophy, even if it’s a theft,” he said.
“The Ferrari lawyers told me about this rule at the time. We went to other lawyers and the answer was that nothing could be done. So, logically, I believed in that situation.
“But after 15 years we hear that the [former] Category owner says he found out in 2008 along with the President of the FIA and they didn’t do anything [so as] so as not to tarnish the name F1.
“It is very sad to know that the result of this race was to be annulled and I would have a title. In the end I was the one who lost the most with this result. So let’s follow that up to understand it all.’
Now, new comments from Ecclestone suggest he knew about the Renault conspiracy “during the 2008 season” when it would have been time to overturn the bottom line (Massa is seen racing in Brazil 2008).
Massa admits he might not have much luck changing a result after almost 15 years, but he’s still interested in finding out what his chances are.
“There are rules and there are many things that you can’t take back after 15 years to resolve a situation, depending on the country,” he said.
“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.”
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