Scuderia Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur has weighed in on the squad's former driver taking legal action over the 2008 Crashgate saga.
Felipe Massa is seeking (along with damages) to be recognised as the 2008 Formula 1 World Champion, something which Vassuer said "would be strange" when speaking to various outlets including CT sister title Crash.net ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix. "I am not a big fan of changing the result 15 minutes after the flag [let alone 15 years]," he added.
As a recap, the finale of the 2008 season was exceedingly close. Felipe Massa of Ferrari looked to have secured the title after winning the final race in Brazil, only to lose it by a single point to Lewis Hamilton after the Briton made a last-lap overtake.
You might have thought that Massa would be over the disappointment by now, but 15 years later the Brazilian is preparing legal action against Formula 1 bosses and the sport’s governing body, the FIA. According to news agency Reuters, Massa is after substantial damages, alleging that a management conspiracy stopped him from becoming World Champion.
Reuters reported that an eight-page letter, known as a Letter Before Claim, has been sent to FIA boss (and former Ferrari team principal) Stefano Dominicali and FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem. Such a letter is required before court proceedings and was sent by Massa’s London-based legal team Enyo Law.
It alleges that Massa was “the victim of a conspiracy committed by individuals at the highest level of F1 together with the FIA and Formula One Management,” and that his loss had robbed him of earnings and bonuses worth tens of millions of euros.
The conspiracy allegations focus on the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, which was won by Fernando Alonso. However, a year after the race it was revealed that Alonso’s teammate, Nelson Piquet Jr, deliberately crashed his Renault during the race in order to bring out a safety car at a time to benefit Alonso.
Massa says that the crash denied him vital points that would have seen him win the title over Hamilton. (He was on pole for the race, but failed to score points after leaving his pits with his refuelling hose still attached, prompting a substantial delay and a time penalty for an unsafe release.)
His lawyers’ letter reads: “Simply put, Mr Massa is the rightful 2008 Driver's Champion, and F1 and FIA deliberately ignored the misconduct that cheated him out of that title.”
So why is Massa taking this action now, and not years ago? Well, earlier this year former F1 head honcho Bernie Ecclestone was quoted as saying that he and former FIA president Max Mosley knew in 2008 that Piquet’s crash was deliberate, but that they’d taken no action. Ecclestone has since backpedalled, and told Reuters that he doesn’t remember making the comments attributed to him.
Massa’s 2008 Brazilian GP win was his last and he retired from F1 in 2017. He said in May this year, “If the most important people from Formula One and the FIA knew in 2008 and didn’t do anything, you think that was fair? It’s not fair.”