Felipe Massa Eyes 2008 F1 Title Held by Lewis

FIA Ignores 2008 Treachery

In an interview with Motorsport.com, ex- Ferrari F1 driver Felipe Massa revealed that he is exploring his possibilities to legally challenge the outcome of the 2008 World Championship season. At the end of that year’s competition, Lewis Hamilton ended up taking the Drivers’ title with a narrow one-point lead over Massa.

At the Singapore Grand Prix of 2008, a scandal that would eventually be referred to as ‘Crashgate’ emerged. Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr., at the behest of team supervisor Flavio Briatore, deliberately had a crash during the competition to aid his teammate becoming victorious.

The setting off of a chain reaction, interestingly relayed by Race Fans, provoked Massa to hurry to the pits where his refuelling nozzle was struggling to be detached, leading to a doomed competition. At that juncture, he seemed about to spearhead the quest for the title, yet instead finished in 13th postion, trailing championship innovator Hamilton by seven points which eventually decided the title victor by the threshold of one point.

Rumors abounded regarding Renault’s actions, yet not a single official response was made until the subsequent year. It was then that Nelson Piquet Sr. got in contact with the FIA, over 10 months after the competition had taken place. Max Mosley, reigning president of the FIA then, had previously been aware of the accusal due to the F1 race director, Charlie Whiting. Piquet Sr. disclosed the manipulation to Whiting, who consequently informed Mosley of the situation.

In an interview with Sky in 2013, Mosley revealed: “Charlie had informed me so we were aware of what had occurred, but there was no evidence whatsoever. Then, in 2009, Nelson Sr. visited me in Monaco, and he recounted the tale to me.”

In his autobiography two years later, Mosley contradicted this statement, claiming that the allegations of cheating had reached him “early in 2009”.

Renault’s conduct had a decisive effect upon the overall season outcomes and Felipe Massa was at the forefront in calling on the FIA to annul the result of the Singapore Grand Prix. However, due to statutes enshrined in the International Sporting Code, this was not an option once the annual Awards Ceremony for the Federation had been conducted. But how come he is now taking a stance challenging their judgment?

In an interview with F1 Insider last month, Bernie Ecclestone, former CEO of the Formula One Group, revealed that he and Max Mosley were aware of the “subterfuge” during the 2008 season. This implies that sanctions could have been imposed on Renault prior to the end of the year. Among these, the FIA may have chosen to annul the outcome of the Singapore Grand Prix, an event that Massa views as the key moment when the championship title slipped from his grasp.

Bernie Ecclestone explains: “We chose to take no action for the time being. We were aiming to protect the sport and save it from a huge scandal. Therefore, I used my persuasive abilities to encourage my former driver Nelson Piquet to remain silent. At that point, there was a rule that the FIA World Championship standings after the end of the year awards ceremony were unalterable. Consequently, Lewis Hamilton was handed the trophy and all was well. We had enough information to start an investigation before the deadline. According to the regulations, we should have canceled the Singapore race under these conditions […] and subsequently, Felipe Massa would have been crowned world champion instead of Lewis Hamilton.”

“These remarks lit a fire under Massa’s butt,” he said. “It was very sad to know that the race result was supposed to be canceled and I would have had a title. In the end, I was the one who lost the most with this outcome, so we are going to get to the bottom of it.”

Massa admits that it is improbable that he will receive a favourable outcome from this and is not motivated by financial gain. “I am coming at this from the point of view of fairness,” Massa declared. “I believe if you have been penalised for something that you were not responsible for, and it is the result of a theft, a stolen race, then justice must be served. The only way to do justice in a situation like this is to annul the result of that race.”

Massa likened this case to the doping scandal that caused turmoil in the cycling world when Lance Armstrong’s titles were removed. Nevertheless, those years in which he won the race have no authoritative victor because there was knowledge of other athletes who had been doping.

McLaren-Mercedes and Hamilton have not been found to be guilty of cheating – only Renault. Consequently, a suspended punishment was inflicted on the latter, while Briatore has been completely ineligble for life. All through, Massa has been known as an ethical sportsman and has nothing but good feelings towards everyone. He just wishes to discover whether his ambition of conquering the Formula One title is still feasible.

It is plain to see that F1 regulations do not permit any sort of alteration in decisions taken at a lengthy delay, ruling out the chance of Massa obtaining Hamilton’s much-deserved championship. Evidently, those in charge ought to be penalised for their carelessness and undoubtedly, justice should be served to Massa one way or another.

Perhaps Ecclestone should be obligated to purchase Massa a novel Ferrari for every year he stayed quiet about the circumstance (15). He ought to commence with a 296 GTB, however, we would advise keeping Massa away from anything that is a convertible; an incident concerning fragments while qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009 almost deprived him of sight in one eye.

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