Felipe Massa Wants Lewis Hamilton's 2008 F1 World Title

Formula One / 9 Comments

It turns out that the FIA knew about treachery in the 2008 season and did nothing about it.

Speaking with Motorsport.com, former Ferrari Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa has announced that he is evaluating his options about legally overturning the result of the 2008 World Championship season, in which he lost the Drivers' Championship to Lewis Hamilton by a single point.

In 2008, at the Singapore Grand Prix, a scandal that would later come to be known as 'Crashgate' unfolded, with one Renault driver, Nelson Piquet Jr., instructed by team boss Flavio Briatore to intentionally crash during the race as a means of helping his teammate win.

This set off a chain of events - described in greater detail by Race Fans - that saw Massa summoned to the pits, where his refueling hose failed to disengage correctly, ruining his race. At the time, Massa was on course to lead the title charge, but he finished 13th, falling seven points behind championship leader Hamilton, who ultimately won the title by one point.


There was much speculation over what Renault had done, but no official action was taken until the following year when Nelson Piquet Sr. formally contacted the FIA nearly 10 months after the race. However, the FIA president at the time, Max Mosley, already knew about the controversy thanks to Charlie Whiting, who was the F1 race director at the time. Piquet Sr. told Whiting about the cheat, who then told Mosley.

Speaking with Sky in 2013, Mosley said: "Charlie told me so we knew what had happened, but there was absolutely no proof, no evidence. Then in '09, Nelson Sr. came to see me in Monaco, and he told me the story."

This was contradicted in Mosley's autobiography two years later, where Mosley said these claims of cheating first reached his ears "early in 2009."


Renault's actions clearly impacted the entire season's results, and Massa led calls for the FIA to cancel the result of the Singapore GP. But this was not possible because the statutes in place clearly stated that the classification of a season is set in stone under the International Sporting Code once the FIA Awards ceremony is complete. So why is Massa contesting the decision now?

In an interview with F1 Insider last month, former CEO of the Formula One Group Bernie Ecclestone said that he and Mosley knew of the subterfuge "during the 2008 season," which means that penalties could have been imposed on Renault before the end of the year. Among these, the FIA may have decided to nullify the result of the Singapore GP, which Massa sees as the pivotal moment at which the title slipped away from his grasp.

Bleacher Report

Ecclestone explains: "We decided not to do anything for now. We wanted to protect the sport and save it from a huge scandal. That's why I used angelic tongues to persuade my former driver Nelson Piquet to keep calm for the time being. Back then, there was a rule that a world championship classification after the FIA awards ceremony at the end of the year was untouchable. So Hamilton was presented with the trophy and everything was fine. We had enough information in time to investigate the matter. According to the statutes, we should have canceled the race in Singapore under these conditions [...] and then Felipe Massa would have become world champion and not Lewis Hamilton."

These remarks are what lit the fire under Massa's butt. "This is very sad, to know the result of the race was supposed to be canceled and I would have a title," he said. "In the end, I was the one who lost the most with this result. So, we are going after it to understand all this."


Massa concedes that he is unlikely to get a positive result from this and is not thinking about the title for financial reasons. "I would go after it thinking about justice," said Massa. "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."

Massa went on to liken this case to the doping scandal that rocked the cycling world when Lance Armstrong's titles were stripped. However, the years in which Armstrong crossed the line first now have no official winner because authorities were aware of other competitors who had also been doping.


McLaren-Mercedes and Hamilton did not cheat - Renault did. Renault received a suspended ban, while Briatore was banned for life. Massa has always been a great sportsman and a generally nice guy, so this doesn't come from bitterness or malice. He simply wants to see if his greatest goal in life, winning the F1 world championship, can still be realized.

Simply put, F1's rules do not allow for a change in results so long after the fact, and we doubt that Massa will be able to claim Hamilton's first championship title. But the powers that be ought to pay for their negligence, and Massa surely deserves some form of justice.

Perhaps Ecclestone should be forced to buy Massa a new Ferrari for every year he kept silent on the matter (15). He can start with a 296 GTB, but we'd keep Massa away from anything with an open top; an accident involving debris during qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009 nearly robbed him of an eye.


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