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."

Article from Pitpass (

Published: 05/04/2023
Copyright © Pitpass 2002 - 2024. All rights reserved.