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Massa taking legal action over 2008 title


Felipe Massa is taking legal action against F1 and the FIA for an alleged conspiracy to deprive him of the 2008 title.

According to Reuters, a formal eight-page Letter Before Claim was sent to F1 CEO, Stefano Domenicali and FIA president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem on August 15.

The Letter Before Claim is a legal necessity before court proceedings can begin, as the Brazilian's London-based representative, Enyo Law alleges that the former Ferrari driver was "the victim of a conspiracy committed by individuals at the highest level of F1 together with the FIA and Formula One Management".

Due to the deliberate crash involving Nelson Piquet Jr at the Singapore Grand Prix - even though Massa finished 13th - it is claimed that the Brazilian missed out on winning the title thereby depriving him of tens of millions in lost earnings and bonuses.

In the aftermath of Piquet's crash - which was subsequently found to have been deliberate and resulted in Renault team boss, Flavio Briatore and director of engineering, Pat Symonds, both being handed bans from the sport - Massa took immediate advantage by pitting.

However, it was a disastrous stop with the Brazilian heading back down the pitlane with the fuel hose still attached to his car and a mechanic laying on the ground injured.

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 Massa's fault.

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

Following the Singapore event just three races remained with the title eventually going down to the wire in Brazil.

Though 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 by one point.

In an interview with the Daily Mirror earlier this year, then F1 boss, Bernie Ecclestone revealed 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. 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."

"Simply put, Mr Massa is the rightful 2008 driver's champion," reads the Letter Before Claim, "and F1 and FIA deliberately ignored the misconduct that cheated him out of that title.

"Mr Massa is unable to fully quantify his losses at this stage but estimates that they are likely to exceed tens of millions of Euros

"This amount does not cover the serious moral and reputational losses suffered by Mr Massa."

While F1 has not yet reacted to the move, an FIA spokesperson said: "The matter is under review and we will not be providing comment at this stage."

"I don't remember any of this, to be honest," Ecclestone told Reuters today. "I don't remember giving the interview for sure."

According to the Letter Before Claim, Massa intends to "pursue legal action in order to seek compensation for the harm he has suffered" and wants "recognition that, but for those unlawful acts, he would have been awarded the 2008 championship".

In the absence of a substantive reply within 14 days, this lawyers warned that they expect to be instructed "to commence legal proceedings in the English courts without further notice to you".


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1. Posted by Spindoctor, 24/08/2023 10:42

"This whole business calls to mind the old proverb that "You can't swim in the same river twice". You can go to the same spot on the riverbank & even dive in, but the water you once swam in has has long since flowed into the sea....


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2. Posted by kenji, 22/08/2023 2:51

"Any settlement of Massa'a claims need to be made fully public and open to scrutiny. If the WDC cannot be reassigned to support the rightful winner then there needs to be an asterisk alongside denoting that the win is contested. Anything less would be a travesty and a failure on behalf of the governing body. Any payout would be pointless on its own as a financial acknowledgement does not, of itself, confer WDC status."

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3. Posted by flyinglap, 20/08/2023 19:12

"@ Anthony
Well, I am not a lawyer. As I understand it, besides the fact that Flavio Briatore along with Pat Symonds and Nelson Piquet Jr were punished indeed at the time (as the material perpetrators and scapegoats possibly, leaving out Renault if I well remember) the fact remains that the two joint maximum authorities back then (FOM and FIA, governed by Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley respectively) did know about what had happened and also they had the power to do something about it in order to make it right (contrary to Renault). I can understand that in their view the preservation of the "sport" (intended as the F1 empire) always comes above everything else, followed by the sponsors, the teams, the hosting countries and the tracks, while the drivers always come dead last. So, rightly or wrongly, they kept quiet and they just waited for the championship to end, whatever its outcome, and for the FIA awards ceremony to seal it. Now, from Massa's vantage point ("follow the money"), rightly or wrongly, F1 and the FIA are the ones to seek compensation from. Especially if he pursues this in front of a US court, it might prove to be a tough case for Liberty, given the long tradition of litigation and absurd compensations awarded. Anyway, regardless of what any one of us would do in Massa's position (forget about it, or obsess about it), we will see how it goes. Hopefully they reach an out of court settlement fast, and they keep the details confidential, otherwise it can be nasty for all parties. Cheers"

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4. Posted by estoril85, 20/08/2023 18:26

"Massa's case is ridiculous and apart from tarnishing his reputation ( I think he was a rather underrated driver btw) will achieve nothing apart from increasing his lawyers wealth.

There is a simple question:
When has an entire race result been declared null and void because one team cheated?
or (Just in case someone quotes the FISA/FOCA wars when the odd race was declared non championship in advance)
Why would an entire race result be declared null and void because one team cheated?

The history around that time has spygate as a precedence.
McLaren kicked out of the constructors championship but drivers allowed to keep their points.
That could hav been one course of action: result Hamilton WC

Alonso DQ from Singapore GP: Result Hamilton WC

You can't DQ a team from an entire season and adjust the points

Precedent: MS DQ from 97 championship but no adjustment to the points.

There is simply no angle whatsoever where Massa has a case.

Hill has a stronger case for 94.
What next

Mansell sues because his tyre shouldn't have exploded '86
Estae of Niki sues for Fuji 76 being run in unsafe conditions

it's a joke, grapes and sour spring to mind.


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5. Posted by Anthony, 20/08/2023 16:39


Compensation may well be fair but won’t Massa have to prove “causation”? If yes, is it not Renault who should be liable rather than F1 and/or the FIA?"

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6. Posted by flyinglap, 20/08/2023 13:58

"The issue here is not the 2008 Championship. That is done, and it is not going to change retroactively, no matter what, for multiple reasons. Massa certainly knows that, and so do his lawyers. The real issue is financial compensation and regarding that, Massa may indeed be successful. I would not be surprised if, between F1 and the FIA, they would eventually settle this for an amount of no less than $50 million (if out of court) or potentially much much more if this goes to court. Talk of "Drive to survive" and inflating the value of the "franchise" and complaining about the impact of a potential 11th team to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars and all that, may not have been so wise after all :)"

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7. Posted by Editor, 20/08/2023 7:51

"Certainly in terms of how what happened affected his earnings, Massa would need to call his then boss as a special witness.

That boss is now the CEO of F1, which makes it a little awkward.

Expect a deal to be settled out of court."

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8. Posted by Anthony, 19/08/2023 15:52

"But my recollection is that all this emerged after Junior was sacked by Renault midway through the 2009 season and that it was only at that stage that Senior had raised it with Bernie. If this is the case, I can well understand the view that it was too late to do anything about it (rather like it being too late to do anything about Maradonna’s Hand of God goal once the game was over!).


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9. Posted by Ricardo_sanchez, 19/08/2023 14:42

"@ZLAY - Massa’s position is quite different to Hamilton’s.

Firstly, Hamilton has 7 WDCs to his name, so he has far less to prove. Legal battles would detract from his on-track accomplishments in public perception. Secondly, The Massa case arises from an event that was intentionally hidden and only came to light years later. The Abu Dhabi incident was immediately known and controversial.

After the Abu Dhabi GP, Mercedes initially protested but later withdrew their protests and did not pursue further legal action. This would surely impact the strength or perception of a subsequent claim.


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10. Posted by Ricardo_sanchez, 19/08/2023 14:24

"I suspect Massa has no real expectation that the title will be awarded to him but needs an outlet for his frustration at learning that F1’s leadership team allegedly covered up the Renault cheating until such time as was convenient for it to be revealed.

On the face it it, the Singapore result should have been declared void and Renault should have been excluded from the rest of that season.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an out of court settlement, in this instance. "

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11. Posted by kenji, 19/08/2023 14:10

"@ ZJAY...some very good comments there. The fact is if Massa is successful in suing for massive amounts and winning then the funds foregone can only be arrived at by calculating what he may have earned as WDC. By assessing his potential income as WDC then surely he needs to be recognised as the rightful WDC otherwise nothing makes sense at all! IMO the race result should be retrospectively erased. Whether that can be done will surely examine the law intensely but it certainly should be tested. As for Hamilton suing I am not sure that he even has a case. The FIA investgated and made a finding. Mercedes were able to lodge a protest but they did not avail themselves of the option.The case against Renault did go to Court and they were found guilty and the management were fully penalised. Case closed. Michael Masi is innocent until legally found liable. "

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12. Posted by ZJAY, 19/08/2023 12:08

"Race manipulation is race manipulation whether it is done by a team, driver, or FIA. When Mike S parked his car in the middle of the track, or when he drove in Jaque V he was punished severely and immediately. So when Massa saw the admission that FIA knew then he sued. Their inaction changed everything after. So he is entitled to a lot of money but the championship result will stand.

I am not a fan of Hamilton and he will have made millions by the time he will retire, still I will not be surprised if he sues the FIA when he retires. I am not sure why people are pissed that it is all about money. It has always been about money.

In any case Pitpass and this forum is much more exciting than any current race. 😉 "

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13. Posted by kenji, 19/08/2023 3:00

"The entire Singapore race result should be excluded and the WDC adjusted accordingly. BE's 'mea culpa' more or less dictates that approach. If other instances of a team conspiracy are brought to light and proven in a Court of Law then similar actions need to be taken. Those who seek to enjoin the Abu Dhabi with this latest revelation are missing the point. Masi has never been found guilty and subsequently punished by a court decision. That avenue was and still is open but Mercedes have not challenged this legally. They only use the result as a pretext to cover their abject failure in the race. They chose track position rather than making a tyre change!!! The Massa affair is entirely separate in characterization. "

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14. Posted by Spindoctor, 18/08/2023 21:48

"@reply to myself that 1st sentence should read
"You've nailed the most important argument which others appear, in their anxiety to score points of their own, to have missed..."

Gonna sack my proofreader...."

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15. Posted by Spindoctor, 18/08/2023 21:37

"@Chicken Farmer. You've nailed the most important argument which others appear, in their anxiety to score points of their own. We can do any number of sums about who got what points at which races, thus possibly making Massa champion. But the truth is that we cannot possibly know how those races would have tuned out had some or all of Alonso, Piquet & Renault been swiftly punished with some or all of disqualifications, race bans etc.

If Massa succeeds I wonder if others whose championships were "stolen" by FIA incompetence or malignity (Damon Hill anyone?) might chose to have a punt. The focus may be on the Championship, but this looks to me really to be about F1's favourite subject these days: money. Surely he earned enough from F1 to avoid penury?

It's also worth remarking (as most others have) that Massa's biggest problem in that race was the bungled pitstop. His reputation as a decent guy & sportsman is unlikely to be much enhanced by this action, whatever the outcome"

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