Former F1 driver Felipe Massa launches legal action over lost 2018 title to Lewis Hamilton

Former Formula One driver Felipe Massa has filed a lawsuit against the sport, its governing body the FIA, and former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone in London’s High Court.

Massa, 42, believes he is the rightful winner of the 2008 title he lost to Lewis Hamilton 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.

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The Renault team was eventually punished but the results stood, leading to Hamilton eventually beating Massa to the drivers’ title by one point. Massa never got closer to the title.

Piquet’s crash came when Massa was in front in Singapore. A safety car was brought in, which squandered his lead and gave Alonso a clear advantage as he was the only driver who had already made a pit stop to refuel.

Massa went on to finish out of the points in 13th place after a calamitous pit stop in which he drove away while the fuel hose was still attached to his car.

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

However, Ecclestone, who bossed 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.

Massa has filed a lawsuit in London amid an attempt to claim the 2008 title. Credit: AP

Monday’s 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.”

Massa added on Monday he was also seeking up to $82 million in damages, a document obtained by The Associated Press showed. That amount included prize money he lost and other potential deals he would have obtained as a F1 champion.

Hamilton, who won the first of his record-equalling seven titles in 2008, 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.”

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.”

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

F1 declined to comment.

– AAP

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