Felipe Massa sues F1, FIA & Bernie Ecclestone over 2008 title

Photo credit: Felipe Massa FB

LONDON, March 12: Lewis Hamilton’s first Formula One world championship is the subject of legal action after Felipe Massa filed a lawsuit against Formula One, its governing body the FIA, and the sport’s former supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, in London’s High Court on Monday.

Massa, 42, believes he is the rightful winner of the 2008 title he lost to Hamilton by just a single point following the ‘Crashgate’ scandal at that year’s Singapore Grand Prix.

Renault staged a win for Fernando Alonso by ordering Nelson Piquet Jr to crash in the other car.

Ferrari’s Massa, leading at the time of Piquet’s smash, finished 13th, before losing the championship at the final round in Brazil.

Piquet revealed the following season that he was under instruction by his bosses to deliberately crash.

However, Ecclestone, who headed F1 for four decades before he was deposed in 2017, revealed last year the sport’s executives were aware of the cover-up before the 2008 campaign concluded.

Lawyers acting on Massa’s behalf want the FIA to acknowledge it “breached its regulations by failing to promptly investigate” Piquet’s crash as well as seeking compensation for the former Ferrari driver.

A statement from Brazilian law firm Vieira Rezende Advogados read: “On March 11, 2024, Felipe Massa filed a lawsuit in the High Court in London, England against Formula One Management Limited (FOM), Bernard Charles Ecclestone and the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile (FIA).

“Mr. Massa is seeking declarations that the FIA breached its regulations by failing to promptly investigate Nelson Piquet Junior’s crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, and that had it acted properly, Mr Massa would have won the drivers’ championship that year.

“Mr. Massa also seeks damages for the significant financial loss he has suffered due to the FIA’s failure, in which Mr Ecclestone and FOM were also complicit.

“Attempts to find an amicable resolution have been unsuccessful, leaving Mr Massa with no choice but to initiate legal proceedings.”

Hamilton, who has won a record-equalling seven titles, said last September: “If that’s the direction that Felipe wants to go, that’s his decision. I prefer not to focus on the past.

“Whether it’s 15 years ago, two years ago, or three days ago, I’m only interested in the present and my focus is on helping my team this week.”

Ecclestone, 93, told the PA news agency on Monday: “If he had asked me, I would have said it was the complete right thing to do, to sue, and to let an English judge decide what is right and wrong.

“I cannot say anything about the outcome and what will happen. I have not got a clue, I don’t think anyone has, but from his point of view, an English judge should come up with a verdict. It will be of more help for him.”

An FIA spokesperson told PA: “We will not be providing any comment on the matter.”

F1 declined to comment.