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Massa eyes 2008 title overturn


Proving that there was drama in F1 before Drive to Survive, Felipe Massa is seeking legal advice following recent comments made by the sport's former supremo.

The 2008 season is forever etched on the memories of fans for its thrilling battle for the title which went all the way down to the final corner of the final lap of the final race of the season.

While Massa crossed the line to win the race thereby claiming the title, his championship rival, Lewis Hamilton was running sixth behind Timo Glock, thereby leaving the championship level in terms of points but in the Brazilian's favour on count back.

However, as Massa's family celebrated in the Ferrari garage, Hamilton passed Glock in the final corner and 38.907 seconds later snatched the title right back.

However, other than that epic race at Interlagos, 2008 will also be remembered for 'Crash-gate' the infamous incident which wasn't uncovered until almost a year later.

Having been dropped by Renault in the days after the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, Nelson Piquet Jnr claimed that he had been ordered to crash at the previous year's Singapore Grand Prix, thus bringing about a safety car which would aid his teammate, Fernando Alonso.

Renault didn't contest the charge and the French team was subsequently disqualified from the sport, albeit suspended for two years. However, team principal, Flavio Briatore and director of engineering, Pat Symonds, were both handed bans from the sport, with the French team ultimately withdrawing from F1 after losing a number of major sponsors.

On the face of it, one might wonder what all this has to do with Massa, however, the safety car brought about by Piquet's crash, saw Massa take advantage by pitting. However, in a disastrous stop the Brazilian headed back down the pitlane with the fuel hose still attached to his car and a mechanic laying on the ground.

The Ferrari driver stopped at the end of the pitlane and as his crew ran to remove the hose, the TV replay showed that the Ferrari lighting system had given him the all-clear. It was not the driver's fault.

Before the stop Massa has been leading, after the stop he was eighteenth. He ultimately finished 13th, while title rival Hamilton finished third.

In a recent interview with the Daily Mirror, Bernie Ecclestone said that he and FIA president, Max Mosley were made aware of Piquet Jr's actions shortly after the event but opted not to take action.

"Piquet Jr had told his father Nelson that he had been asked by the team to deliberately drive into the wall at a certain point in time in order to trigger a safety car phase and help his team-mate Alonso," said the former F1 supremo.

"We decided not to do anything for the time being," he admitted. "We wanted to protect the sport and save it from a huge scandal.

"There was a rule at the time that a world championship ranking was untouchable after the FIA awards ceremony at the end of the year. So Hamilton was presented with the trophy and everything was fine."

Ecclestone's claim has caused Massa to seek legal advice.

"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 Brazilian tells "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 cancelled 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," he admitted. "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.

"I would never go after it thinking financially," he insisted. "I would go after it thinking about justice. I think if you've been punished for something that wasn't your fault, and it's the product of a robbery, a stolen race, justice has to be served. In fact, the right situation is to cancel the result of that race. It is the only justice that can be done in a case like this."

Cancelling the result of the race would indeed make the Brazilian world champion, with 97 points to Hamilton's 92.

"We have already seen other situations happening in sports, such as Lance Armstrong (cyclist), who was proven to have doped, and he lost all the titles. What is the difference?"

Whatever the rights and wrongs, it is highly unlikely that Massa will have any luck, though it remains a mystery how Renault and Alonso were able to keep the win, even so disqualifying the Spaniard would still not benefit the Ferrari driver only the complete cancelation of the result.

The FIA's International Sporting Code does not allow post-race protests, while the right to review must take place within 14 days and four days prior to the annual prize-giving ceremony.

Furthermore, the FIA's International Court of Appeal is the sport's highest authority as agreed by all those involved in the various championships.

Though Massa could call on the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), it can only be involved in matters such as the FIA's Anti-Doping Disciplinary Committee, and would have no say in a matter such as this.

Indeed, this is partly why Mercedes opted not to challenge the result of the infamous 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Toto Wolff admitting at the time that "we believe we had a very strong case, and if you look at it from the legal side, if it would have been judged in a regular court you could almost guarantee that we would have won.

"But the problem with the ICA is the way it is structured. The FIA can't really mark their own homework. And there is a difference between being right, and obtaining justice."


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1. Posted by ChickenFarmerF1, 06/04/2023 20:46

"Further to my initial comment, Massa would have been, not really a beneficiary of Piquet's crash, but would have probably won the WDC had that pit stop not been so badly botched. He was in the lead, and while he couldn't pit before the pitlane was closed, he would have probably remained ahead of Hamilton with good quality pit stop. Impossible to say he'd have won that race with a good pit stop, as he would have been behind Alonso after that stop, but a podium was highly likely, and points a near certainty. A finish ahead of Hamilton would have also been quite possible, which would have not only added to Massa's points tally, but taken away from Hamilton's, and would have potentially swung the WDC such that all Massa had to do was not be outscored by Hamilton by more than 2 points in Brazil. Hamilton wound up finishing Singapore in 3rd, so Massa getting 3rd and pushing Hamilton to 4th is very plausible in a world of Ferrari competence. In that alternate universe merely finishing no worse than 1 place behind Hamilton in Brazil would have clinched the WDC for Massa in that case.

Instead he had to outscore Hamilton by 7 in Brazil to win the WDC but Hamilton's 5th place cut Massa's advantage by winning to only 6 points.

But who knows what would have happened if Ferrari hadn't botched that stop. Maybe Massa would have crashed out trying to pass Trulli or Fisichella or something. Maybe some other rounds that year would have turned out differently due the psychology of everything. We can never really know. Even if the purposeful crash by Piquet would have been acknowledged at the time, there's no guarantee that the race would have been struck from the championship. Maybe they would have just disqualified Renault which would have promoted Hamilton to second and given him 2 more points (Massa would have been promoted to 12th, but that would not have helped his points). And if they banned Renault from the rest of the season it's impossible to say how that would have affected the remaining 3 races because you can't just melon scoop the Renault drivers from those results. If they weren't allowed to race it would have altered the dynamics of qualifying, and the races themselves."

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2. Posted by BillH, 06/04/2023 20:33

"That annoying modern fairy tale catchy theme "Let It Go" comes to mind."

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3. Posted by KKK, 06/04/2023 20:19

"Bit late to complain about it. 15 years later ? Give it up Massa, its the way the dice fell. Why dont you look at other races where you could have done better ?"

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4. Posted by Obsidian, 06/04/2023 15:37

"Poor guy has never been the same since Rubens spring knocked him out."

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5. Posted by phantom, 06/04/2023 3:15

"To @ Max Noble, venerable editor:

It was the steward's fault."

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6. Posted by Superbird70, 05/04/2023 21:10


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7. Posted by Superbird70, 05/04/2023 21:09

"Originally posted 2923-04-01."

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8. Posted by @R1Racing71, 05/04/2023 18:40

"The whole thing is click bait. (Not pit passes BTW) but it does expose those who run / ran the “sport” are well aware of all the shenanigans that go on and are complicate in the subsequent cover up.
What does surprise me though is that the gambling companies have been silent on the matter. Flav - a long time associate friend of Bernie’s are both keen on a flutter - I find it unrealistic Flav didn’t share the information prior to the race."

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9. Posted by ChickenFarmerF1, 05/04/2023 18:01

"The problem with overturning this is it would harm Hamilton when he played zero part in the bad behavior. It sucks for Massa but the main problem he had in that race was his team screwing up the pitstop, not the chicanery of Renault, Bernie and the FIA. Without that botched pit stop he likely would have finished in the points. Even 1 point in that race and he'd have won the WDC, all else being equal."

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10. Posted by elsiebc, 05/04/2023 16:19

"If nothing else it puts an asterisk next to the GOAT's seven* titles."

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11. Posted by Mad Matt, 05/04/2023 16:06

"A long time ago a lecturer told me you can never really answer the "what if things had happened differently" question. What if Thatcher hadn't come to power and taken down the miners' unions? What if Diana hadn't died in the crash?

We can never know how things would have turned out if the result had been overturned at the time, how Lewis and his team might have reacted, what Felipe might have done, perhaps Felipe would have got even more of a lead and then messed it up due to pressure, perhaps Lewis would have upped his game... perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.....

All I can say is that it's a crying shame for Felipe and the sport in general that this happened. He seems a nice guy but given the accident with Ruben's spring he can at least be happy to be alive and I don't think he'll have money worries for the rest of his life...."

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12. Posted by ARL, 05/04/2023 14:48

"Scott Stoddard wuz robbed. Scrap the second reel.

I do hope Felipe doesn't waste good money on the haverings of an aged attention seeker."

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13. Posted by Editor, 05/04/2023 13:27

"@ Max Noble

That's nothing, I had 50 denarius on Messala to beat Judah Ben-Hur at Circus Maximus... and don't tell me that race wasn't fixed."

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14. Posted by Endre, 05/04/2023 13:08

"@kenji that would be very far from his character. "

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15. Posted by Max Noble, 05/04/2023 13:06

"Time to restart the “Body Line” tour issues from cricket... ‘cos it wasn’t cricket… It’s just under 100 years ago so let’s rehash it.

Then I want to rehash the sinking of the Titanic, as with global warming the iceberg should have simply become a puddle…"

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