Formula One

Felipe Massa wants legal action on 2008 Crashgate: “A stolen race”

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Photo by XPB / Icon Sport

Felipe Massa is considering a legal battle over the outcome of the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship. The Brazilian lost out to Lewis Hamilton, following a hugely controversial Singapore Grand Prix in the latter stages of the season.

Crashgate back in the headlines after Ecclestone race-fixing admission

Bernie Ecclestone, F1 boss at the time of the infamous 2008 Singapore GP, admitted earlier this year that he knew about the race-fixing scandal before the 2008 season concluded, at a time when the Singapore results could have been altered.

Felipe Massa claims the failure to take action cost him the championship. The Brazilian believes the race should have been annulled, something that would have given him the title by five points over Hamilton.

And now it appears Massa is considering legal action fifteen years later. Talking to Brazilian sports portal Esportelandia at a stock car event, Massa said:

“I was totally wronged by what happened that year, in a stolen race. This made me go after justice. I’m not a lawyer, but everyone knows I was clearly wronged and I think justice is part of our fight to correct what happened.

That was a stolen race. It was manipulation, which is very serious. It wasn’t an engine that broke down. There was an engine that broke down as well, but that’s part of the sport.

That was manipulation. They made Nelsinho Piquet crash to help his teammate win. They totally did a manipulation for a result. The end of the race was completely different from what it should have been. So it was a manipulation.”

Massa and Crashgate: How the saga developed

Crashgate is a term coined to describe the events that took place in the 2008 Singapore GP, the 15th of 18 races in the calendar. Coming into the event, Lewis Hamilton was on top in the standings, a single point ahead of Felipe Massa. In the Marina Bay Street Circuit, which was about to host the championship’s first ever night race, the Ferrari driver dominated qualifying, six tenths ahead of his title rival. In the meantime, Fernando Alonso qualified 15th after his Renault broke down, a disappointment after strong performances in practice.

The Grand Prix commenced with Massa keeping his advantage over Hamilton and pulling away early on. Alonso was the first to pit, in what seemed like a strategic move to get away from slower traffic. The race soon turned upside down, as his teammate, Nelson Piquet Jr, crashed into the wall at Turn 17 and brought out the safety car. Most of the field pitted soon thereafter for fuel and tyres and chaos ensued, while Alonso benefitted thanks to his early stop and became the new leader.

Ferrari gave Massa the signal to leave his pitbox while the fuel hose was still attached to his car. The Brazilian pulled away and he dropped last, as mechanics ran down the pitlane to extract the fuel hose. Things would not get better, as a later crash meant he would finish 13th. In the meantime, Alonso held on to win and Hamilton finished 3rd, grabbing six valuable points.

Photo by Bpi / Icon Sport

The season concluded a month later in dramatic fashion at the Brazilian GP, as Hamilton performed a last-corner overtake on Timo Glock to grab the title from Massa by a single point, who won that race.

The Singapore GP became a hot topic one year later, when Nelson Piquet Jr was sacked by Renault and revealed that he had been ordered to crash by Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds, the team’s upper management, in order to help Alonso win. After a short investigation, the team was found guilty and both team members were banned from F1, but altering race results was out of the question.

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